Transforming Anger into Peace and Joy
Of all the human emotions, anger is the most destructive. It causes oneself endless pain, anxiety, and stress, while also leading to much suffering for the people around. The Buddha once said, “holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are always the first one to get burnt.”
Anger results in errors of judgements, it ruins friendships, and it destroys all peace of mind. Consequently, a person dominated by anger experiences no joy, healthy relationships, or luck and fortune. This is why it’s important to be mindful of our anger and learn to manage it in a healthy way that ensures it diminishes over time. Below, I discuss three practical and effective ways to deal with anger and how we can transform it into patience, kindness, and insight.
Patience against Anger
Like all feelings and emotions, anger arises from conditions and will inevitably pass away. Instead of trying to suppress it by pushing it away, or reacting to it with destructive actions, we can simply observe it, remain calm and gentle-minded, and let it pass away on its own. Every time we don’t react to it, it loses its power. Every time we witness its passing away, we experience peace. Then over time, we strengthen our resilience and patience, and circumstances won’t affect us the way it used to.
Although in theory it is easy to understand, the difficulty lies in having the presence of mind to remain calm and patient when anger arises. But when we see the merits and importance of overcoming anger, our perspective towards it changes, and we learn to perceive them as challenges that test our resolve. Then, we begin using them as tools for spiritual growth and personal development. When our patience and tolerance is heightened, anger no longer presents an obstacle because we have our inner fortitude to overcome anything life throws at us. This is the advantage of cultivating patience and how we can use life’s challenges and obstacles to our advantage. By perceiving negative situations from a constructive point of view, we have already lessened its adverse effects.
Kindness against Anger
Using kindness to manage anger is the most direct way to deal with it because a quality is always diminished by its opposite. Just as hot water cools down when we add ice to it, anger diminishes in the presence of loving-kindness. Furthermore, anger is a self-centered emotion, while kindness is focused outwards towards others. A kind and loving mind is happy, gentle, and friendly and so naturally, anger and hatred is less likely to overwhelm. But when it arises, we learn to apply our empathetic and embracing attitude to the situation and the anger automatically subsides. Consequently, our mind returns to its peaceful and relaxed state, and we have once again overcome anger with kindness.
In theory using kindness is logical and straightforward, but in practice it may be difficult to inspire when we are confronted with challenging and stressful moments. I think it is important to remember that we are the same in that we all want to be happy and comfortable while avoiding pain and suffering. From this perspective, we are all equal and should treat others the same way we wish to be treated. When we interact with others in such a manner, our inner kindness shines forth, and it becomes easier to remain open-minded and empathetic. As we realize the damage anger causes and the joy that kindness brings, we naturally behave more peacefully and harmoniously with ourselves and the people around. This single change in attitude will lead to great joy.
Insight against Anger
When we have established a certain degree of patience and kindness and no longer feel overwhelmed by anger, we can use it to develop wisdom and insight. During moments when we experience anger, hatred or any other hurtful emotion, we should remain calm and composed, and try to understand where it is coming from. By doing so, we can directly address the problems at its root to ensure the conditions that bring about anger no longer arise. This is what mindfulness is about, and it has the power to heighten our awareness and strengthen our connection between mind and body, so we understand more about our habits and thought patterns.
Although we can not usually control the external environment and what happens to us from the outside, we can always influence our reaction and attitude. With insight into what causes and conditions lead to our anger, anxiety, and suffering, we can transform them into more peaceful and harmonious conditions that lead to joy, pleasure, and relief.
For example, if we get angry when things don’t go exactly the way we want it to, we can relax our expectations and become more flexible. If we feel stress and tension when others insult or disparage us, we can learn to soften our egos. By using insight to manage hatred, we take responsibility for our happiness instead of constantly laying the blame on others. Only then can we truly realize the inner peace and joy we want and deserve. This is how we can use wisdom and insight to manage not only our hatred but all negative and destructive feelings and emotions.
It is clear to see the destructiveness anger brings to ourselves and the people around but much more challenging to handle it when it overwhelms us. However, there are many methods to manage anger, and the best way is to develop patience, kindness, and insight.
If we practice likewise, our attitude towards anger is transformed into optimism as we realize we can use anger as a means to cultivate wholesome virtues and qualities. Similarly, other negative emotions like hatred, jealousy, arrogance, and anxiety no longer overpower us as they can help us become better, kinder and wiser people. Only then are we able to be the source of joy and positivity our friends and family need. We will have endless happiness to enjoy ourselves and even more to share with the world.
May we all enjoy a life of great happiness and harmony and be free from the constraints of anger and hatred.
Thanks for reading