I had just arrived at work for my construction job one day and was standing around the room we had been working on for the last week. I was looking at what we would be doing for the day while waiting for my boss to show up to tell me what he wanted done. In he walked, sunglasses on, frown on his face, and a huff in his step. “What?” I asked. ‘Those damn idiots.” he said. “Those fucking idiots. They fucked up all the door frames. Now I got to fix them, all of them. Those fucking idiots. I got shit to do man, I can’t be messing with all this. Now I got to fix it. I’m pissed off.” For the next four hours he and I went about framing and leveling door frames, my boss moaning and complaining the entire time about how much he hated doing it. I also hated working that day. It wasn’t the door frames that ruined it. My boss ruined it.
All people feel anger throughout their lives, some more than others. It’s a simple fact we can all agree on and accept as a rather common emotion that is a small part of the whole spectrum of feelings that encompass the human experience. You’re coming home from work and you have to sit in forty-five minutes of traffic, you get angry. You stop for some milk and butter at the supermarket and all the cash registers are taken, you get angry. There’s a baby crying near you that only seems to be getting louder and louder as time passes, you get angry. There’s a rock in your shoe that keeps poking you in the foot. You get angry. All of these annoyances and frustrations inflate a bubble of anger that we carry around in our day. The more of these instances of frustration, the bigger the bubble gets, weighting on our mood and our attitude at all things. It turns you into a different person, someone who is less tolerant at all things they do, less understanding and more violent. An all around worse person. It sucks. And it’s preventable.
What my Boss was mad about made sense. He had planned on doing other things that day but was instead forced to fix another’s mistake, wasting energy, time, and money. The anger was understandable and had an easy source to trace back too, as most anger does. I’m not faulting him for that. None of us get angry because we want to be angry. Instead, it is more like we feel the need to be angry. But this need is weird. Anger and its sources are different form person to person, some actions angering one man and the other has not even noticed what has gone on. So we can say that anger is a choice on our part. We choose in some way what to be angry about and what not to, which in turn means that if we want to, we have the ability to take a step back and pick and choose what make us angry. Asking the question ‘Do I want this outside action to change the way I act and the mood I am in?‘ suddenly makes our anger seem artificial and childish. Anger is the emotion of someone who expects their day to go according to plan, for their to be no hiccups or road bumps. Everyone knows this is not the case in life, things happen, but we all like to forget this when a baby starts to cry in a restaurant. We all know unexpected events are going to happen, so why act like they’re not? Instead of being optimistic that our day will work out perfectly, we should accept the road bumps as an inevitable part of life, just like anything else.
To clarify, when talking about anger, I am speaking more about everyday anger, small occurrences that happen in our day that put us in a bad mood. Coffee being spilled on you, your order being wrong, someone cutting you off in traffic, etc. Larger things like someone punching you in the face are more direct and intentional, but the question can still be asked nonetheless. Asking that simple question stops the rush of emotion in its tracks, letting us to clear our head and better see the bigger picture in our life. Once we view anger as apart from us, an outside source trying to control our mood and personality, it is much more easily stopped in its tracks. Why let the random stranger who cut you off in traffic affect your mood and what type of day you have. The answer is, you shouldn’t.
Choosing my anger makes me feel more independent and self aware, more in control of my own life.