Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. - Mark Twain
The Gift Of Traffic
Last week, I told you how to make your commute the happiest and most valuable time of the day with a lesson I learned after years of commuting in Atlanta traffic. Long before that, however, traffic taught me another invaluable lesson that applied to virtually every part of my life and may have even saved it.
Rarely a day would go by that I wouldn’t be cut off, tailgated, flipped off, put in danger, yelled at, glared at or otherwise “wronged” by another driver. It added an incredible amount of stress to my already stressful day. That is until I realized the stress wasn’t coming from other drivers, it was coming from me. I was choosing to become irate, sometimes even responding in-kind. Even though it may have felt “right” or justified, reacting that way didn’t make me feel good. Anger and irritation never do. I suppose, I thought I was somehow teaching them a lesson with my anger. In reality, all I was doing was making myself miserable. I am NOT a high-strung person, but I ended up with shingles, being put on heart monitor, even misdiagnosed with depression, MS, and a brain aneurysm. Fun right?
One day, it got to be too much and I just decided to stop. I don’t recall the exact circumstance, but I do recall how dramatically different my life became overnight. Instead of becoming angry, I chose be generous. If someone wanted to cut me off, I’d give them room. If they wanted to pass me on the right to squeeze into the half car length I left in front of me, I’d slow down and let them in. Heck, for all I know, they’re on they’re way to the ER. Flip me the bird? Empathize knowing they must be having a rough day. It’s just not worth getting riled up about. And it’s not that doing this made me feel superior, but all that stress I had brought upon myself simply disappeared along with all the health problems. It was magical. I quickly discovered I wasn’t being generous to others, I was being generous to myself. It also became clear that the same lesson applies to dealing with people anywhere, whether at the grocery store, on the internet, or in your store. Do yourself a favor and be generous.
Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you are. - Cherie Carter-Scott
Irritation is a privilege.
It's the least useful emotion, one that we never seek out.
People in true distress are never irritated. Someone who is hungry or drowning or fleeing doesn't become irritated.
And of course, irritation rarely helps us get what we need.
Irritation clouds our judgment, frustrates our relationships and gets our priorities all wrong.
Irritation tries to persuade us that it's justified, but it merely pushes us away from what we actually need.
In order to be irritated, we need to believe we're not getting something we deserve. But of course, that expectation is the cause of the irritation. We can choose to lose the expectation, embracing the fact that we're lucky enough to feel it, and then get back to work doing something generous instead.
It turns out that irritation is a privilege and irritation is a choice.
How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. - Marcus Aurelius
When In Rome
The ancient Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius recognized nearly 2000 years ago that he would almost certainly encounter people each day that would anger, irritate or disappoint him. He also recognized that is wasn't in his best interest to give into those feelings. He even instituted and wrote about a daily morning ritual to anticipate and deal with it before it happened.
There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot. - Plato