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Episode Summary

Psychologist Sarah Schnitker explains her research on patience, how psychological methodology integrates with theology and philosophy to define and measure the virtue, and offers an evidence-based intervention for becoming more patient.

What is the place of patience in a life worth living? Evidence from psychology suggests that it plays an important role in managing life's stresses, contributing to a greater sense of well-being, and is even negatively correlated with depression and suicide risk. Psychologist Sarah Schnitker (Baylor University) explains her research on patience, how psychological methodology integrates with theology and philosophy to define and measure the virtue, and offers an evidence-based intervention for becoming more patient. She also discusses the connection between patience and gratitude, the role of patience in a meaningful life, and how acedia, a forgotten vice to modern people, lurks in the shadows when we are deficient in patience.

Part 5 of a 6-episode series on Patience, hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • This episode was made possible in part by a grant from Blueprint 1543.
  • Why study patience from a psychological perspective?
  • Patience as notably absent
  • Can we suffer well? Can we wait well?
  • David Baily Harned: Has patience gone out of style since the industrial revolution (Patience: How We Wait Upon the World)
  • Waiting as a form of suffering
  • Daily hassles patience, interpersonal patience, and life hardships patience
  • Measuring patience is easier than measuring love, joy, or gratitude, because it isn’t as socially valued in contemporary life
  • How virtue channels toward different goals
  • Patience can help you achieve your goals by helping you regulate emotion, allowing you to stay calm, making decisions, persist through difficulties
  • Patience and the pursuit of justice
  • Patience and assertiveness
  • “If you’re a doormat, it’s not because you are patient, it’s because you lack assertiveness."
  • Aristotelian "Golden Mean” thinking: neither recklessly pushing through or giving up and disengaging. Patience allows you to pursue the goal in an emotionally stable way
  • Unity of the virtues: “We need a constellation of virtues for a person to really flourish in this world."
  • Golden Mean, excess, deficiency, too much and too little
  • Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris on a forgotten vice
  • Acedia in relationship: “Even in the pandemic… monotony…"
  • The overlapping symptoms of acedia and depression
  • Patience is negatively correlated with depression symptoms; people with more life-hardships patience is a strength that helps people cope with some types of depression
  • Patience and gratitude buffer against ultimate struggles with existential meaning and suicide risk
  • How do you become more patient?
  • “It requires patience to become more patient."
  • Three Step Process for becoming more patient: Identify, Imagine, and Sync
  • Step 1: Identify your emotional state. Patience is not suppression; it begins with attention and noticing—identifying what’s going on.
  • Step 2: Cognitive reappraisal: one of the most effective ways to regulate our emotions. Think about your own emotions from another person’s perspective, or in light of the bigger picture. Take each particular situation and reappraise it.
  • Find benefits. Turn a curse into a blessing. Find opportunities.
  • Step 3: Sync with your purpose. Create a narrative that supports the meaning of suffering. For many this is religious faith
  • Reappraising cognitive reappraisal: How convinced do you have to be? You’d have to find something with “epistemic teeth”—is this something you can rationally endorse and know, and can you feel it?
  • Combining patience and gratitude practices, allowing for multiple emotions at once, and reimagining and reappraising one's life within your understanding of purpose and meaning.
  • Provide psychological distance to attenuate emotional response.
  • The existential relevance of faith for patience; theological background of patience
  • Patience and a life worth living
  • Love, the unity of the virtues, and "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Peter 3)

About Sarah Schnitker

Sarah Schnitker is Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University. She holds a PhD and an MA in Personality and Social Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and a BA in Psychology from Grove City College. Schnitker studies virtue and character development in adolescents and emerging adults, with a focus on the role of spirituality and religion in virtue formation. She specializes in the study of patience, self-control, gratitude, generosity, and thrift. Schnitker has procured more than $3.5 million in funding as a principle investigator on multiple research grants, and she has published in a variety of scientific journals and edited volumes. Schnitker is a Member-at-Large for APA Division 36 – Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, is a Consulting Editor for the organization’s flagship journal, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and is the recipient of the Virginia Sexton American Psychological Association’s Division 36 Mentoring Award. Follow her on Twitter @DrSchnitker.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured psychologist Sarah Schnitker and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture:
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