The Soul Trait you will be practicing this week is Patience. It is time to stop practicing Humility, and to move on to Patience. Mussar is like extreme spiritual fitness, in that you focus on one Soul Trait at a time, and then move on to the next one. After 13 weeks you’ll circle back to Humility to start the cycle again.
Mussar teaches that Patience governs our ability to bear the burden of an uncomfortable situation.
When things are going well, we don’t need Patience. Rather, Patience is a gift because it helps us get through difficult times when we have no control over the outcome. As Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lefin wrote in the mussar classic Cheshbon Ha’Nefesh (Accounting of the Soul),
Woe to the pampered [person] who has never been trained to be patient. Either today or in the future,[they are] destined to sip from the cup of affliction.
American Mussar practice has three parts: a morning mantra, daily actions, and journaling. If you haven’t done so already, watch the video above.
Write the following mantra on an index card, and place it by your bedside.
“This too shall pass and I have the strength to bear the burden until it does”
As you go through your day, observe how your Patience Soul Trait is activated. What things set you off?
If you tend towards too little Patience: Look for opportunities to wait, for example by selecting the longest checkout line, or by letting other cars go in front of you while driving.
If you tend towards too much Patience: Look for an opportunity to ask for what you need, and start to formulate a plan for taking action. You’ll come back to this plan next week when you practice Enthusiasm.