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anger 2

I feel very bad for angry people, for I see them creating their own hells to live in, and they usually don't even realize it.  I've seen few things in the world that deserve the kind of anger that we see on a regular basis; on the radio this morning, one of the disc jockeys was telling about taking her mother to a cancer treatment center.  She parked the car close to the entrance to help her mother into the center, and as soon as she was out of the car, the person in the car behind her started laying on the horn.  This person actually came up and hit the back of her car with his car-- not hard enough to do any damage, but hard enough to let them know he was angry.

I feel very sad for this man.  He can't be happy with life if such a trivial thing can cause such rage in him.  Inner peace?  Forget it.  He's probably so busy looking for excuses to be angry that he never notices the beauty of the world, the wonderful parts of life, the nice people who surround him every day.  I've known people like him, and there's no convincing them that life is wonderful, because it can't be since people are such jerks.  But people aren't jerks.  They do jerk-like things on a regular basis--we all do--but that doesn't make us jerks.

The angry person reacts in anger and causes others to be angry, and a cycle begins.  My hope is that I'm able to be a person who ends such a cycle, a person who reacts to anger with love and understanding, because the angry people need that more than anything else.  

Reacting in anger is merely perpetuating these people's belief that their anger is justified, but reacting in love may get them to question whether or not their anger is justified, effective, and/or helpful to them.

We can't psychoanalyze everyone we meet.  We can't say this person is angry because she's been neglected, or this one is angry because he's trying to compensate for feelings of inadequacy.  We need to separate the anger from the person, the creation of God who stands before us and who deserves our love.

When I'm tempted to react angrily myself, I try to remember to ask myself this question:  Am I contributing to the anger in the world, or am I contributing to the peace and love in the world?  I need to contribute to the love--we all do. Love is the only power that can cause a permanent change.

Of course, we have to look at the other side of anger--the side that gets us to act when we see an injustice done to another person, the side that causes the feeling of righteous indignation that gets us moving and feeling for others.  There is injustice in the world, and as Arthur Ponsoby points out below, if our lack of anger is a sign of indifference, then it's a big problem for us and for those people with whom we share the world.

But we still have to control this anger, as Aristotle points out below.  Unchecked and misdirected anger is destructive, and if we're to be angry at all, we want that anger to be constructive, not destructive.  Controlling our anger takes learning and practice, and we have to keep learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others to learn how to use our anger effectively, and to know when to recognize anger that's justified, and anger that's a reflection, a symptom, of something else that's going wrong in our lives.



Anger destroys the angry person and all those around him or her.  The
angry father can cause fear and terror among his children.  The angry
wife and mother can manipulate with a force and subtlety that can be
felt for years.  Open anger roars through human relations with a
destructive force-- a firestorm.  The hidden anger that burns and attacks
and manipulates can last for years.  It destroys the underbrush; it twists
and poisons the ground growth.  And so with us.  The ferocious exterior
flame is uncontrollable except over a long period of work and time.
We must isolate our anger and allow it to burn itself out.

Edward J. Lavin


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Eugene Carman

Rhodes' slave! Selling shoes and gingham,
Flour and bacon, overalls, clothing, all day long
For fourteen hours a day for three hundred and thirteen days
for more than twenty years.
Saying "Yes'm" and "Yes, sir" and "Thank you"
A thousand times a day, and all for fifty dollars a month.
Living in this stinking room in the rattle-trap "Commercial."
And compelled to go to Sunday School, and to listen
To the Rev. Abner Peet one hundred and four times a year
For more than an hour at a time,
Because Thomas Rhodes ran the church
As well as the store and the bank.
So while I was tying my neck-tie that morning
I suddenly saw myself in the glass:
My hair all gray, my face like a sodden pie.
So I cursed and cursed: You damned old thing!
You cowardly dog! You rotten pauper!
You Rhodes' slave! Till Roger Baughman
Thought I was having a fight with someone,
And looked through the transom just in time
To see me fall on the floor in a heap
From a broken vein in my head.

Edgar Lee Masters
from Spoon River Anthology


How could I feel so miserable in the midst of such splendor?  The question flashed
through me all at once, not waiting for words to express it.  The answer came
more slowly:  No one makes you angry.  Anger, like love, is something you choose.
Stunned, I sat down in the middle of the field I'd been walking through.
I knew I needed to look within myself, let go of my anger and have a quiet talk with God.

Susan L. Taylor


No person can think clearly when his or her fists are clenched.

George Jean Nathan


Anger is a symptom, a way of cloaking and expressing feelings too awful
to experience directly--hurt, bitterness, grief and, most of all, fear.

Joan Rivers

Anger is not only inevitable, it is necessary.  Its absence
means indifference, the most disastrous of all human failings.

Arthur Ponsoby

As long as anger lives, it continues to be the fruitful parent of
many unhappy children.

St. John Climacus



They are fools who cannot be angry;
but they are wise people who will not.


anger 2

Anger in its time and place,
May assume a kind of grace.
It must have some reason in it,
And not last beyond a minute.
If to further lengths it go,
It does into malice grow.
'Tis the difference we can see
'Twixt the serpent and the bee.
If the latter you provoke,
It inflicts a hasty stroke,
Put you to some little pain,
But it never stings again.

Close in tufted bush or brake
Lurks the poison-swelled snake
Nursing up his cherished wrath;
In the purlieus* of his path,
In the cold, or in the warm,
Mean him good, or mean him harm,
Wheresoever fate may bring you
The vile snake will always sting you.

Charles and Mary Lamb

*place where one goes often


Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness
forces you to grow beyond what you were.

Cherie Carter-Scott

     Ruby stepped toward him. "Edward," she said softly. It was
the first time she had called him by name. "Learn this from me.
Holding anger is a poison.  It eats you from inside.  We think that
hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us.  But
hatred is a curved blade.  And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.
     "Forgive, Edward.  Forgive.  Do you remember the lightness
you felt when you first arrived in heaven?"
     Eddie did.  Where is my pain?
     "That's because no one is born with anger. And when we die,
the soul is freed of it. But now, here, in order to move on, you must
understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it."
     She touched his hand.
     "You need to forgive your father."

Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven


It is wise to direct your anger towards problems--not people;
to focus your energies on answers--not excuses.

William Arthur Ward


If you get angry easily, it may be because the seed of anger in
you has been watered frequently over many years, and unfortunately
you have allowed it or even encouraged it to be watered.

Thich Nhat Hanh



Itís believed that anger is something thatís bad, that thinking angry
thoughts isnít healthy.  Not true.  What is unhealthy is allowing yourself
to become immobilized by your anger.  For example, if youíre going
through a horrible divorce and are very upset, you canít do your job.
You canít be with your children.  You canít get along with your co-workers.
You canít be healthy, and you canít help anybody else be healthy.  You can
hardly do anything except get sick, tired, or depressed.
Thatís all you can do.
Itís the most irresponsible choice you can make, yet it has a convenient
payoff.  You can use that anguish youíre experiencing to keep you from
being an effective human being.  Itís the perfect cop-out every time
someone asks why you arenít getting anything done:  ďHow do you
expect me to get anything done when you know whatís going on in my life?Ē

Wayne Dyer
Happiness Is the Way


People are often very frightened of their anger.  They feel it will cause them to do
something harmful.  If you have this fear, create a safe situation where you can
express your anger, alone or with a trusted therapist or friend.  Allow yourself
to talk angrily, shout, hit pillows, whatever you feel like.  Once you've done this
in a safe environment, you will have released some of the charge, and you can look
underneath the anger to find what you need to do to take better care of yourself.
Like any emotion, anger is a valuable tool, teaching us
who we are and how we feel.

Shakti Gawain


As a girl my temper often got out of bounds.  But one day when I
became angry at a friend over some trivial matter, my mother said
to me, "Elizabeth, anyone who angers you conquers you."

Elizabeth Kenny


Getting angry can sometimes be like leaping into a wonderfully
responsive sports car, gunning the motor, taking off at a high
speed and then discovering the brakes are out of order.

Maggie Scarf


The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.

Jacqueline Schiff

The greatest remedy for anger is delay.


Speak when you are angry and you will
make the best speech you will ever regret.

Ambrose Bierce

If you are patient in one moment of anger,
you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

Chinese saying


Anger is like flowing water; there's nothing wrong with it as long as you
let it flow.  Hate is like stagnant water; anger that you denied yourself the
freedom to feel, the freedom to flow; water that you gathered in one place
and left to forget. Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden,
poisonous, deadly; that is your hate.  On flowing water travels little paper
boats; paper boats of forgiveness.  Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your
waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness.  Be human.

C. JoyBell C.

Those who smile rather than rage are always the stronger.

Japanese wisdom


For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


The source of peace is within us; so also the source of war.  And the
real enemy is within us, and not outside.  The source of war is not the
existence of nuclear weapons or other arms.  It is the minds of human
beings who decide to push the button and to use those
arms out of hatred, anger or greed.

Dalai Lama


I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to
conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into
energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted
into a power which can move the world.

Mohandas Gandhi


Because anger is both an emotion and often a coping response,
it falls into a special category, which Nicholas R.M. Martin, author
of An Operator's Manual for Successful Living, calls "secondary
emotions."  He states that most of us have learned to feel more
comfortable with anger than the underlying feelings it covers, and
we are often more quick to express that anger than the "softer"
feelings closer to the heart.
He mentions four standard feelings that tend to precede anger:
fear, hurt, frustration, and injustice.  Although the list of possible
underlying feelings may be much longer, Martin feels these four
are perhaps the most common and could be called "the four pillars
that hold up the roof of anger."

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life

anger 2

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Never respond to an angry person with a fiery comeback, even if
he or she deserves it. . . . Don't allow his or her anger
to become your anger.

Bohdi Sanders
Warrior Wisdom

Anger. . . it's a paralyzing emotion.  You can't get anything done.  People
sort of think it's an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling; I don't
think it's any of that.  It's helpless, it's absence of control, and I need
all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers, and anger
doesn't provide any of that.  I have no use for it whatsoever.

Toni Morrison
in a radio interview, 1987


Anger seeks to separate rather than join, to tear down rather
than build up, to gain an advantage rather than to share.


There is no passion that so shakes the clarity of our judgment as
anger.   Things will truly seem different to us when
we have quieted and cooled down.

Michel Montaigne

Angry people are blind and foolish, for reason at such a time takes
flight and, in her absence, wrath plunders all the riches of the intellect
while the judgment remains the prisoner of its own pride.

Pietro Aretino


Tremendous energy comes with anger.  Do not suppress it:  that would
only hurt you inside.  Do not express it:  this would not only hurt you
inside, it would cause ripples in your surroundings.  What you do is
transform it.  You somehow use that tremendous energy constructively
on a task that needs to be done, or in a beneficial form of exercise.

Peace Pilgrim


Anger burns up all that is noble.  It is a consuming fire, born in the fires
of destruction.  At the end, it leaves the victim nothing but a wreck of
his or her better self, burned out, blackened and dead,
like forest trees over which a great fire has swept.

Julian P. Johnson

Those who give no fuel to fire put it out, and likewise those who do
not in the beginning nurse their wrath and do not puff themselves
up with anger take precautions against it and destroy it.



You will not be punished for your anger,
you will be punished by your anger. . . .
Let a person overcome anger by love.

the Buddha

Sometimes owning our pain and bearing witness to struggle means
getting angry.  When we deny ourselves the right to be angry, we
deny our pain.  There are a lot of coded shame messages in the
rhetoric of "Why so hostile?" "Don't get hysterical," "I'm sensing
so much anger!" and "Don't take it so personally."  All of these
responses are normally code for Your emotion or opinion is
making me uncomfortable
or Suck it up and stay quiet.

Brenť Brown
Braving the Wilderness


Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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