I was six years old when I first called my teacher a stupid cow, the most insulting words my first-grade brain could cook up in a fit of rage. Seven years when I started punching a sofa in the middle of class. Eight years when I was excluded from a field trip for being too rowdy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
One of my distinct childhood memories is ripping a notebook to shreds and kicking dents in a steel door when my mum locked me in the basement. Ah, good old times!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all these incidents, it’s this:
Being angry sucks.
It makes you miserable. It makes everyone around you miserable, too. When you’re angry, you struggle to find a solution to the problem and make bad decisions, like fighting with people you love and calling them names. There’s really not much good about it.
Yet, it’s easy to give in. One small thing can make you angry and ruin your day, like when someone who’s won his driving license in the local lottery cuts you off on the highway. Anger provides quick relief, an outlet for pent-up pressure. But the negative emotions corrupt you, make you irritated, and turn your good mood sour.
How Much More Harmful Are The Consequences Of Anger And Grief Than The Circumstances That Aroused Them In Us!
Wouldn’t it be better if you could turn the anger into positivity instead?
Over the years, I became much calmer. Tranquility has turned into one of my biggest strengths because it allows me to achieve what I want without being distracted by rage. Anger is weakness, calmness is strength.
I’ve found three ways to cultivate peace of mind. Even if you don’t struggle with regular rage, these techniques will help you keep your calm even in the biggest storm.
Don’t React — Respond Instead
Anger isn’t the same as being angry.
There’s a subtle, but important difference — one is an emotion, the other one a state of being. You can’t control your emotions. You can of course go Kim Jong Un and suppress them into non-existence, but that doesn’t do you any good. Practice acceptance instead.
Emotions are your brain’s feedback mechanism. They tell you to feel angry when you hit your foot on your desk. But you decide if you react and trash it, or if you acknowledge the feeling and respond with calmness. From my personal experience, working on a three-legged desk isn’t a lot of fun, so keep that in mind.
Anger is telling you to pull the trigger on a gun — but no matter how much it screams at you, you can decide if you move your finger or not.
If you react instead of respond, you’re a slave to your emotions.
You lose power over yourself. Others can make you angry and watch you dance like a wind-up monkey. Back in the day, my classmates sure had fun with it.
How can you turn your blind reaction into a rational response?
Emotions are a funny thing. The more you resist, the stronger they come back, and the more pain and suffering they cause.
Instead, experience them without reacting to them. That’s the real superpower.
The next time someone sends you an upsetting mail, cuts you off in traffic, or starts their life story to the cashier when all you want to do is pay for a coffee to go and two bananas, feel into the emotion.
Where does the anger sit? Your chest? Your arms? Your jaw? Don’t resist — but don’t react either. Then, when the wave has washed over you, let it go and choose to stay calm.
Respond instead of react.
Leave Your Mind Behind
If you asked me about the worst thing in the world, I’d have an answer faster than a vegan telling you how nutritional yeast tastes just like cheese.
People walking slowly in front of me.
Ironically, it’s often the people who should hurry the most because they have the least time left (read: seniors). Maybe I’ll understand it when I’m old, but it drives me nuts to have to trudge along a supermarket aisle with the speed of a slug because I can’t overtake and Mr.I shouldn’t even buy green bananas because who knows if I still get to eat them has forgotten his hearing aid at home. However, I’ve turned these gruesome experiences into a humbling practice.
While responding and reacting both happen on the level of the mind, I take it one step further and completely detach myself from it. Sounds weird? Let me explain.
You are not your mind. You are the consciousness behind it.
Like your mouth speaks and your ears hear, your mind thinks and you, the consciousness, listen to the thoughts — and this is where the trouble begins.
Your mind loves to solve problems, which is both its best and worst feature. Like a dog biting a bone, it attaches itself to a problem with no sign of letting go. Your thoughts always come back to the situation causing anger. That’s why you have to stop thinking altogether.
When you interrupt your stream of thoughts, you’re left with a state of bliss and peace and pure Being. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. There are no problems, no time, and no judgments about others’ walking speeds. Everything just is.
This state is what most major spiritual movements strive for — nirvana, enlightenment, or non-duality. When you are 100% present, you detach yourself from your mind and with it, all the anger and problems. This is hard to grasp with your thoughts because it goes beyond them, but here’s how you can experience this state.
- Observation without judgment. We are quick to form opinions on everything we see. The dress is a beautiful red. This food tastes bland. The price is too high. He walks too slow. Let go and observe instead, without any judgment.
- Feel into your body. Your awareness rests mostly on your thoughts. Your mind ruminates, decides, worries, and like a TV, creates a lot of captivating, colorful images and noise. It’s hard to pull your consciousness from it, but it gets a lot easier when you give it another program to pay attention to. Focus on your body. Your breath. How your fingers feel. The little veins running over your hands. When your awareness rests on these feelings, it isn’t on your mind. And when you leave your mind, you mute the TV and turn around, leaving all the anger behind you.
Getting into a state of Being instead of thinking completely pulls you out of your anger and any other problems. It isn’t easy to do, but over time and step-by-step, you’ll catch glimpses of it. Every time you interrupt the constant stream of thoughts your mind generates, you step into a state of peace and bliss.
Don’t think. Just be.
Use Your Energy in the Right Way
Anger isn’t all bad — there are two sides to every coin.
It can be a great motivator and drive you to new heights. The liberated energy itself is neither good nor bad — it depends on what you do with it.
Like a pent-up river, it can wreak havoc and destruction if you let the dam break, but it can also bring benefit and prosperity if you use the water to generate electricity or grow crops.
A few weeks ago, I hit my toe on our bathtub. After a few hearty f-words, I tried to flip the script and channel the energy into finding something to be grateful for instead — like not breaking my toe. This reduced the heat and saved my mental pot from overcooking immediately.
Cut off in traffic? Be grateful there wasn’t an accident.
Missed your train? Be grateful there is another one.
Someone says something rude? Be grateful your mouth and ears work and you can communicate in the first place.
When you focus on your blessings, it’s hard to get lost in your curses.
Being grateful forces you to look at what you have instead of what you have not. It’s a much better use of your time and energy and brings your mind peace instead of war.
If you want to change your life for the better, be grateful.
Every Time You Get Angry, You Lose
With all this talk about detaching yourself from your mind and being grateful, you can think I’m a saint. I’m not.
I’m just a dude who has spent a lot of his life being angry and realized that apart from short-term relief, there’s nothing to gain, but all the more to lose.
You make yourself miserable. You destroy your relationships. And you kill your chances of living a happy and fulfilled life, so do yourself a favor, and stop getting angry.
This doesn’t mean you should take shit from people. Stand up for yourself and set clear boundaries. But do so without being angry.
Respond instead of react. Detach yourself from your problem-seeking mind. Turn your energy into gratitude.
Life is better that way.
For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness.