June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Perhaps the biggest obstacle I encountered on my path to leading a more contented life was dealing with anger. And I’m not what you would call a particularly angry guy. But life seems to be full of things, both big and small, that cause you to get angry. When you’re angry your emotional state is anything but contented and happy.
The causes of our anger seem to be infinite. They can include things as small and as insignificant as spilling our coffee; or our anger can result from the injustice and corruption we seem to encounter at our every turn.
The consequences of our anger can be profound and wide ranging. Even if we don’t consider how anger interferes with our relationships with our loved ones, our colleagues, and all the other people we constantly interact with (something we will consider later), the effects of anger on our own health and well being are disturbing to consider.
I doubt if there’s anyone who hasn’t read about or heard about the negative effects of stress on our health. And we’re rarely more stressed than we are when we’re in the throes of anger. Here is one precise statement about the way anger damages our health:
“The connection between stress and heart disease is widely known, but there is also evidence linking high levels of anger and hostility to various types of heart problems such as increased hypertension, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease and heart failure. In otherwise healthy people, high levels of anger and hostility have been associated with increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and heart attacks, especially among men. Angry patients with existing heart problems appear to be more likely to have poorer prognoses.” Read the entire article here: http://www.councilforrelationships.org/resources/articles/physical-toll-of-anger.shtml
If you Google “anger” you’ll find thousands of links to articles and books on the subject. But I don’t want to explicate on anger as such here. Rather I’d like to say something about one way to try to deal with your anger. It might seem simplistic but it’s not, really. Rather it’s simple. Try saying “So what?” to yourself. I think you’ll find it amazing at how often you’ll answer that question by thinking, “So nothing,” that is, the cause of your anger is really pretty meaningless in the scheme of things.
As luck would have it, about 30 minutes ago my wife and I were watching the evening news as we usually do and she was enjoying her evening glass of wine. All of a sudden there was a crash — she had knocked her glass off the table. The glass shattered on the floor, wine soaked the arms of the easy chairs we sit in and was all over the floor, too. The three dogs were barking and sniffing the spilled wine. A real mess. But the point is that she let out a loud expletive, a rather very harsh one for her, and her expression was pure fury. She looked as though she were about to burst with anger. I immediately said something to the effect that it’s no big thing, it’s just an accident, we’ll have it cleaned up in 10 minutes, etc., etc.
And that’s the point. There are so many incidents in our lives that result in responses such as that of my wife that are simply not worth the stress that results from such reactions. The incident was, indeed, “a pain,” but so what? It didn’t deserve such upset and anger. More appropriate would have been a guffaw, perhaps a shake of the head, maybe a self-disparaging remark like “what a klutz I am.” Certainly it wasn’t worth her making herself feel so badly about something she had no control over and which, in the larger scheme of things meant absolutely nothing.
We’ll continue taking about anger and contentment in the next post.