I’m a big fan of storytelling to teach a lesson. My favorite professors in school were the ones who through their storytelling, inpsired me to think a different way or to act a different way. I always felt that when a professor injected these stories in the middle of a boring or complicated lesson, it allowed me to sort of refresh and approach the lesson with a more clear and open mind. This particualar story is about Anger.
Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. But gradually, the number of daily nails dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the first day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.
“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, it won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”
When I look at anger the way the story describes, for me, it provides a whole new outlook on the topic. I always thought (probably like most) that when I got angry at someone or something, it’s a release and that the person or the bed that stubbed my toe, most likely deserved my lashing out. I thought it was about them and it was essential to make them understand how they made me feel. Now granted, some people do deserve to be put in their place 😉 but I guess the important thing is how we go about this. The idea is not to suppress but to address the situation without getting angry, thereby disrupting our peace inside. This certainly isn’t easy but it’s something to think about because getting angry actually hurts us. Every time we get angry, many health statistics show that our health deteriorates. In addition, there is the guilt, depression, insomnia, anxiety and stress that we then have to live with as a result of these anger explosions.
So, the big question here is, how do we do it?? Well, the Buddhist way to tackle anger is through meditation. Meditation helps to train our mind to leave a bad thought behind and to re-focus on our breath. The goal is to teach us to have more control of our mind so that we can eventually put this practice into effect when confronted with any situation and we could prevent an explosion. This takes lots of practice!!! But if the whole idea of following a Buddhist ideal scares you, think of Buddhism as more of a philosophy of how to live your life as opposed to a religion.
….or you could dig into your own faith and embody it. Practice kindness and learn to be more compassionate and loving.
A more practical and quick response would be to step away, go for a walk and give our selves some time to re-access the situation. Responding to someone when we are angry ususally never gives us the results we are looking for.
I find including exercize in my weekly routine, allows me to release some of that stress I encounter in my days. I always feel amazing and empowered after a good workout!
Research it, figure out a way to be more peaceful,…but don’t just let anger take over your life because it literally could and then it will be too late 🙁 xo
Photo above is a Richard Avedon shot.
Story above borrowed from: http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/anger.html