The struggle with anger.

I think it’s fair to say all of us struggle with the emotion of anger in our lives. Some exhibit it quite loudly in the form of rage, in others it may show up as a quiet burning flame of resentment. Whatever mask it wears, the monster of anger is a mindless beast which has the power to nullify your entire sum of good karma from your previous good actions. All of your compassion, your kind acts, your love and your respect for someone can be simply disqualified because of a silly fight or an argument on Twitter.

No one can escape life without witnessing for themselves (at least once) how big of an insane monster we all nurture within us. It’s the worst part of us. A reminder that we evolved from the animal ancestry with “fight or flight” mode that continues to exist in our reptile brains.

But here’s the thing. We don’t have to be angry. Or at least let anger call shots in how we go about in our life. If we choose to be better, we can rise above anger. It’s definitely not an easy undertaking and might take years but it’s perhaps one of the most rewarding internal battles you will ever take in life. Anyway, I hope the below quotes and the story that follows can be of use to you in that journey:

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot. “ — Plato

“Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else.” — an old Buddhist saying

Story: To fix the behavior of an ill-tempered kid, a father gave him a bunch of nails and a hammer and said:

“Son, every time you are angry about something, I want you to go outside and hammer a nail into the fence. “

The first time the kid got upset he hammered 37 nails to the fence. His anger was out of control and he showed it on the fence. The next time he was angry, he ran outside with a hammer again but when he saw his nails from the past he figured he’d punch a few less and attempt to control his anger. He wasn’t fully successful and he hit 10 nails in. This process continued and over time he stopped hammering too many nails and started watching his mind to reduce his anger.

Eventually, he got to a point where he fully mastered his anger and learnt to control his mind. And thus had no use for the hammer. He went and spoke to his dad who was delighted to hear this. But he gave the son another task. The father quipped: “Son, next time you are angry again, go out there and remove one nail from the fence which you previously hammered.” The kid duly obliged.

Over time, the kid understood how painful it was to remove the nails he had struck into the fence violently. When all of the fence was emptied, the father walked out and pointed to the holes in the fence that would forever remain. He went on to say,

“Son, when you quickly hurt someone through harsh words, no amount of apologizes can fix the wound. So control your anger and watch your words as they may have permanently change someone’s life for the worse.”

Anger plays a vital role in all of our lives. We assume it’s OK to lose some temper but if you want to live a mindful life, no ounce of anger is justified. Sit with your unpleasant feelings and find a practical way to communicate and resolve an issue than causing permanent harm to others.