Tolerance vs Patience

Patience is defined as the bearing of provocation, annoyance,misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.”

Tolerance is defined as “an act or capacity of enduring; endurance”.

At the beginning of this year I vowed to concentrate on patience for the next 365 days. Now I believed (as did other people), that I was a patient person. I have even been accused of being too patient. I rarely lose my temper and I calmly navigate my way through life’s difficulties. Reading A Journey to Prayer, Part 1-The Most Dangerous Prayer  made me consider the things we ask God for and how he gives them to us.

The year is almost over and I have a totally different concept of what it means to be patient. At the beginning of this post I defined the words patience and tolerance. I did this because I have recently realized that what I (as well as others) was mistaking for patience was actually tolerance. We tend to think waiting is synonymous with patience but it is not. You can wait very impatiently.  Our ability to wait has more to do with our level of tolerance than it does our ability to be patient.

Patient waiting is calm and content without irritation. Tolerant waiting is an act of weathering the wait. Standing in line sighing and rolling your eyes because it is taking longer than you expected is tolerance not patience.  Thinking of the list of things you have to do while your friend talks your ear off is not patience. A patient listener is actively engaged in the conversation and is concerned only about the person who is talking to them. Making sure not to snap at your children when they are being annoying or irritating is not patience. It is merely self control. Patience keeps you from being annoyed or irritated in the first place.

If I am truthful with myself, when my patience is tested I am much more likely to display tolerance than patience. Long lines irritate me but I realize that I have to endure the line to get whatever I am standing in the line for. Being late annoys me. While I have learned that being late is not the end of the world, it still bothers me . . . a lot! So neither example is a display of patience. That also means my accusers were wrong. I am not too patient. I am too tolerant (and I don’t think that is such a bad thing).

It may seem that I have learned a lot about how impatient I am and I have failed to keep the vow I made in January. That is not true. Coming to the understanding of what patience is and isn’t, has given me the tools I need to do better in the patience department. If I had not made the vow I would probably still be confusing patience with tolerance. Now that I truly know what patience is I have a greater chance of actually being patient instead of just being tolerant.


22 comments on “Tolerance vs Patience

  1. Awesome revelation on what patience is! Thank you for how you showed the difference between patience and tolerance. Great lesson!


  2. MeilaniM says:

    I liked this post very much! Life is too short to spend precious time getting cross so easily, from things like standing in line. I consciously chose to have no reason to be impatient when in line, and now I can’t remember why such a thing ever bothered me. It’s so much more satisfying and gratifying to be cheery than to be the grumpy one. Your post was thoughtfully written. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • ljlhannah says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I agree that life is too short to get upset over such small things. For me the thing was that I wasn’t getting upset but I wasn’t being patient either. Now I know what it means to be patient so I can act accordingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Vibrant says:

    Reblogged this on blabberwockying! and commented:
    This is a beautiful post highlighting the difference between patience and tolerance by a fellow blogger who practiced virtue of being patient for a year and then decided to write about her great realization. Thanks for sharing with us!


  4. Vibrant says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I have never read something like this before and it makes me think. I have shared it on my blog and on the social media. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

    Love and light ❤

    Anand 🙂


  5. pamkirst2014 says:

    I’m reminded of a story a now-departed friend told long ago. She was praying for patience. All these horribly trying things began to happen to her, and she went to her spiritual advisor to complain. And he said, “Ah! Be careful what you ask for! God is giving you the chance to learn.”

    Lovely distinction between patience and tolerance…thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Indira says:

    Beautifully defined the difference. Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wandering Soul says:

    wow… you really bared us all out there 🙂 clearly, i am tolerant but not at all patient.

    Now that I truly know what patience is I have a greater chance of actually being patient instead of just being tolerant.

    you taught us too , the meaning of patience and what exactly to do and how to do it. thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dbhall1911 says:

    Extremely wise, discerning and insightful. Many lack the understanding of the difference between the two. Thank you for your honesty, transparency and your investment in writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. THANK YOU for sharing from your heart in your blog! We do often confuse patience with tolerance. As my family heads into the holiday season, we normally get into the zone of parties, gift exchanges and church events etc., but what a great time to give the gift of patience, understanding or heartfelt listening. Perhaps all three!


    • ljlhannah says:

      I agree Crystal. It is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, especially around the holidays. It is hard to be patient when you have to get somewhere or pick up something and someone or something is delaying you. You don’t just become patient. You have to work at it. I guess it is something that is a life long process. Thanks for your comment.


  10. Wow this is a wonderful lesson to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. IreneC says:

    Okay … so I’m tolerant. I always roll my eyes while waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] I recently realized that one of the reasons I am having difficulty handling the changes in my life is because I am not practicing patience. Us human beings tell each other to be patient all the time. We try our best to be what we consider patient but do we really know what patience is? I think we (and me in particular) find ourselves in trouble because our definition of patience is wrong. There is a difference between being patient and being tolerant. I go deeper into that in a post you can read here. […]


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