[Caveat: All of my observations, or essays, however dubbed, are simply reflections on lessons that life has taught me, which I pass along to my loved ones and to any others who choose to read them. I make no claim to prescience, wisdom or mastery of any of these life-lessons. They simply reflect goals to which I still aspire.]
Anger is short madness.
Horace (65-8 BC)
When you think of times when you have been angry to a boiling point, as all of us have, you know that you were temporarily mad, meaning irrational or temporarily insane at some level, thus disgracefully unable to control yourself. In such volcanic, infantile straights, people drive their fists through walls, kick holes in things and do unspeakable damage to others, all because they can’t control their temper. People spend their entire adult lives in prison, because they lost control of their temper for a few seconds. There is no emotion more ridiculous, more childish, more pointless, more self-defeating or more dangerous to self and society than anger. In life, as in tennis:
“The calm mind always wins.”
Novak Jokavich, World No. 1 in Tennis (2013)
Said differently, the angry mind always loses. Is that really what you and I want for ourselves? Talk about decisions that we need to make, this is the first one:
I shall never allow myself to be angry again!!!
I shall never allow anger to control me again.
I shall always control my anger!!!
At first thought of anger, I shall take my mental Happiness Pill; that is, I shall proclaim happiness; I shall impose love on myself and on those near me; I shall laugh at my silly , infantile anger; I shall make a joke of it and put it to rest, period!
Anger is inexcusable at all ages, in all people, at all times;
and it is completely within the control of every person
and is, therefore, totally unnecessary.
Where does anger start? In egoism run wild, when the world so centers on self that nothing else matters: solipsism. Anger (as other negatives) recalls the suckling infant, in its crib, in fetal position, sucking its thumb and whimpering or screaming pathetically, requiring that its desires be satisfied on demand, and, years later, as an older and more pathetic five-year-old, laying face-down on the floor, kicking and screaming and pounding his fists and feet on the floor, with crimson face and eyes bulging. When such infants become adults, if not re-directed, they do as they wish (or do nothing); some even beat women, children, animals, anyone or other usually defenseless being — which is the most despicable, execrable and inexcusable conduct this side of pedophilia and genocide. They allow their tempers to control them and to force their will on others. Their pubescent temper defeats them at every turn and converts them to uncivilized beasts.
Virtually all of us are guilty of anger at some level, at some times; it is a question of degree, but no degree of temper is necessary, nor will it benefit the angry person in the long run. Anger exacts a very heavy price, and it is universally viewed with richly deserved, unbridled contempt. We must master it!
One of the current, top women’s professional tennis players, the admirable Agnieszka Radwanska (aka “Aggie”), a prototypical lady-athlete, who never seems to lose her temper, a paragon of equanimity and thus admired by peers and fans alike, put it so simply,
Anger is wasted energy.
The homeostatic Aggie wastes zero energy on anger, and, therefore, she optimizes her success on the tennis court. Although of slight stature and devoid of the steroid-induced muscles of some of her hulking, androgynous (and sometimes screaming) opponents, she consistently ranks in the top five in the world, as her highly-trained skills, temperament, self-control and thoughtful shot-placements enable her to overcome the daunting amazons that dwarf her. A similar view sprang from no less than Mahatma Gandhi, a veritable Indian Saint, often cited his favorite Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, which explained his anti-anger wisdom this way:
When a man gets angry, he falls down.
Indeed they do, smashing things, screaming, being ejected from games, all proving the wisdom of the Buddhist’s view:
We are not punished for our anger.
We are punished by our anger.
Buddha (c. 450 BC)
Anger makes us irrational, extreme, undesirable and unbelievable, as any opinions expressed in anger are given zero weight, revealing the counter-productive folly that anger invariably invokes. Even worse, angry actions make people afraid of us. Uncontrolled anger has led to defeat in all manner of business, sports and social activities and, in the most extreme cases, even to homicide, genocide and suicide.
There simply is no point to anger, and no reason justifies it.
Anger makes cripples of us, driving others away.
If ever there were a mental carcinogen, anger is it.
It is difficult to have much sympathy for those who lack the will power to keep their tempers under control and who choose to wallow in anger’s dangerous self-indulgence and the violence to which it often leads. In the end, anger guarantees defeat and leads to isolation. All of us have been guilty of allowing anger to control us, but it is a daily battle that we simply must win. Rejection of angry thoughts and substitution of positive ones is the first step.
Our minds, like radio stations, drift desultorily off the frequency and the clear signals (of positive thoughts that we so consciously implant repeatedly every day) become blurred by static and require retuning. We want to keep our minds on the straight and narrow; we really do, but they simply drift. We must re-tune our minds daily, often hourly and sometimes, minute-by-minute to keep us thinking correctly, in positive, constructive and loving ways. It is our life’s work, and nothing is more rewarding than controlling our feelings and doing our best to be the kind of person that we truly wish to be.
It’s difficult, and our job will never end; we must take solace in our progress, forgive ourselves for our minor “slips”, IF we rectify them expeditiously. We simply must arise each day with new resolve to make ourselves better, so, that we, like the kindly Émile Coué (a psychologist who pioneered a now popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on auto-suggestion or self-hypnosis) can honestly say,
“Every day, in every way, I grow better and better.”
Émile Coué (1857-1926)
And, we might add, “because we MAKE ourselves so.”