Anger Management- Buddhism
We have all been angry at some point, in fact we are often angry every day; it might be because someone cut us off, someone took the last toilet paper at the store, or someone said something to hurt us. Anger is an emotion that we all experience and that is okay, the problem is often how we deal with that emotion and Buddhists might have figured out an answer to not letting anger harm us.
Why do we become angry? Knowing the why is important because it teaches us where it comes from. Many of us may think that anger comes from the outside, but it does not – it comes from inside of us. It comes from the fear that we are going to lose something or someone. We might become angry when we are jealous since we perceive that we might lose our partner, or when someone cuts us off, we may be worried that we are losing time doing something that we enjoy.
When we are angry we might want others to suffer because we are suffering, and as such might take our anger out at the transgressor – such as yelling at our partner if we believe they have thought about having sex with someone else. We may also take our anger out on people that did not transgress against us, like believing we can cut off someone while we are driving because ‘everyone else does it’.
Theravada Buddhism believes though that this is not the way we should approach anger and instead we should look at situations with loving kindness and compassion.
What is loving kindness? It is looking at the situation in a different light. Perhaps our partner knew that the other person was having a bad day and was not saying something to hurt us but instead was trying to make the other person’s day just a little better. Or the driver of the car that cut us off was trying to get to the hospital or pick up their child. Loving kindness allows us to consider what the other person may be going through and not just consider how their actions are affecting us.
But why should we move away from anger and towards loving kindness? Anger is harmful, not only to the people in our lives but also to ourselves. People who are angry sleep poorly, have high blood pressure, become burned out in their jobs, and alienate people around them. No one wants to feel angry all the time, it is like being in a constant state of fight or flight, it can stress our bodies out.
How though can we increase our loving kindness and decrease our anger over situations that are out of our control? One way to do this is to simply pray, praying has been shown to reduce anger towards the person who committed a transgression. One may not even need to pray but instead, look at the person with kindness, give that person more humanity. They are not just the person who cut us off, instead they are the person that is trying to pick up their child. Or perhaps it was just a simple mistake. Another thing to do is to think about the acts of kindness around you, perhaps the person that opened the door for you at work, or the person who let you go in front of them in the line. Thinking about these acts was proven to make happy people happier.
Even if anger is an emotion that everyone feels, we can focus on not letting that anger control us. We can work on ways to make anger less of our daily lives and be happier people which will in turn make the people around us happier. Let people make mistakes and be willing to forgive them, count your blessings. Try to remember that the things in your life will not be taken away from the small acts of transgressions committed against you. Focus on the acts of kindness in your life, those are things that will make you happy, even when our brains want to focus on possible loss.
Happy Canada Day!!!