The Virtue of Patience, Spirituality, and Suffering: Integrating Lessons From Positive Psychology, Psychology of Religion, and Christian Theology

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Abstract

Based on insights from the psychology of religion, positive psychology, personality psychology, and theology, a theoretical model relating the virtue of patience to religion and spirituality is proposed. Patience is conceptualized as a hybrid personality construct related to effective emotion regulation strategies coupled with transcendent narrative identity. An initial empirical test of the model is conducted in a sample of ethnically diverse adolescents (N = 406) who are primarily Christian or nonreligious. Religiousness and spirituality are predictors of the virtue of patience, which then predicts use of the emotion regulation strategy of cognitive reappraisal; all these variables are then tested as direct and indirect predictors of regulated behavior and well-being. Overall, results support our theoretical model that spirituality and religion predict higher patience, which facilitates the employment of adaptive emotion regulation strategies that predict better life outcomes. Implications and future research questions stemming from the theoretical model are discussed.

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