Patience vs. Waiting: What’s the Difference?

Patience vs. Waiting: What’s the Difference?


Imagine the following scenario:

  • You go to a fast-food restaurant and order a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, and a drink.


1 minute goes by, no food.

10 minutes go by, no food.

15 minutes go by, no food.


You are getting furious.

15 minutes for fast food?

You could have just stayed home and made a sandwich.

What gives!!


20 minutes go by, no food.


You can’t concentrate at all.

You could have responded back to some quick texts during these 20 minutes, but the rage has you feeling off.


What’s going on here?

Are you being patient or are you waiting?


The rest of this article will break down different variations of this fast-food scenario.


The Difference Between Patience vs. Waiting



Waiting is a physical activity.

Patience is a mental and physical activity.


In the scenario above, you were waiting, but not being patient.

‘What do you mean, Armani? I was boiling with anger in silence, but I didn’t snap at anyone.’

I know bud.

But still, that was waiting.


Patience is when you realize:

‘Look, this is going to be some time. I am going to exercise my patience muscle.’


You still feel the anger, sure.

However, this time, you objectified the anger.

In this scenario, anger is something that you can coexist with rather than be ruled by.


If you were patient, you would acknowledge:

‘I’m angry, no denying that. Oh well, I can’t do anything about it. I’ve been here for 20 minutes already. Let me wait it out some more.’


You have made an acknowledgment.

With this acknowledgment, you have won some control over your mind.


The 2 Conditions to Show Patience


Let’s go back to the fast-food example.

Imagine that once you ordered the cheeseburger, nuggets, and drink, your cashier said:

‘Our nuggets machine is down. It will take at least 25 minutes.’


You are now made aware of HOW LONG the wait time will be.

If you say:

‘Sure, I will wait 25 minutes.’

Are you being patient?


This is where it’s a tossup…


I have the following 2 conditions for exercising patience:

  • You are uncertain of how long you will be waiting for.
  • You are told to wait for an exceedingly long time.


If neither of the bullets are satisfied, then you are waiting, not being patient.


If the cashier tells you that the nuggets machine is down and you will have to wait 25 minutes, then the first bullet is not satisfied.

Because the cashier told you how long you will be waiting for.

You don’t have to coexist with the uncertainty that patience requires.


What about the second bullet?

Are you waiting for an exceedingly long time?


In my opinion, yes.

Waiting 25 minutes for a fast food order is considered excessive.

I satisfy the second bullet of waiting an exceedingly long time.

Therefore, I will be exercising patience if I wait 25 minutes.


Now imagine the cashier says:

‘Sorry sir, our nuggets machine is down. It will take 10 minutes to have your order ready.’


Let’s go back to our 2 conditions for exercising patience:

  • You are uncertain of how long you will be waiting for.
  • You are told to wait for an exceedingly long time.


The cashier told me how long I will be waiting for.

Therefore, I am not uncertain.

With the first bullet, I am not showing patience.


Next, 10 minutes.

Is that an exceedingly long wait time?

Nah, not really for me.

With the second bullet, I do not meet the patience condition.


Therefore, if I am waiting 10 minutes for my order, I am not being patient.

I am simply waiting.


What Does All of This Mean for You?


Being patient is hard.

If you lose your cool every now and then, understand that it happens to the best of us.


Whenever I see someone losing their cool in a viral video, I see the audience bashing the guy who lost it.

I think that’s unfair.


Sure, this person should not lose their cool.

But once we understand that patience is difficult to do, it helps us better understand this person.


Life Irony:

  • The more we understand why others get mad, the easier it is for us not to get mad.


Another thing we can learn from knowing the difference between patience and waiting is to overcommunicate when we mess up.


Imagine you’re supposed to get coffee with someone.

You tell them to meet you at the coffee house by 2 pm.


By 2 pm, they are there.

But you are not.


The inconsiderate thing to do is not give them any updates.

You’re stuck in traffic, but they don’t know that.


2:15 pm…

No message.

They are beginning to lose their patience because they have no clue where the hell you are!


This is the perfect time to turn a patience scenario -> waiting scenario:

‘Hey bud, I am stuck in traffic. My GPS is showing that I will be there by 2:27 pm.’


You have given this person clarity on how long they will be waiting for.

With this clarity, they can physically be present without exercising too much mental effort.


Exercising the Patience Muscle


Being patient is tough because it feels unfair.

We feel like we held up our end of the bargain, but are still being screwed over.


Every now and then, some strategic anger does help inject urgency into the other party.

When they work with urgency, we can get our service delivered faster.


But other times, anger doesn’t resolve the issue.

It only creates an uncomfortable experience for others.


This is the perfect time to exercise patience.

You either have no clue how long you are going to be waiting for, or you have to wait for an exceedingly long time.


Rather than snap, acknowledge the anger.

Objectify it.

‘I am angry.’

Once you objectify it, it’s easier to push that anger to the side as you do other activities.


Each time you are patient today, each time it becomes easier to be patient tomorrow.


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