Reboot Your Life: Conquer your Anger to Find Real Happiness

क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रम|
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति|| 63|| 

Bhagwad Geeta: Chapter 2 – Sloka 63

Anger leads to the clouding of judgment, which results in the bewilderment of the mind. When the mind is bewildered, the intellect gets destroyed; and when the intellect is destroyed, one is ruined.

During the US Open 2020, Novak Djokovic steadily extended his winning streak as he outclassed Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in a routine third round victory. He looked unbeatable and his 18th major title seemed certain. In the next match against Carreno Busta, Djokovic had three set points. The set would have been over but for an incredible challenge. Down 0-40, Carreno Busta hit a forehand that was called out, but the Hawkeye replay showed it was a hair’s breadth inside the baseline. Carreno Busta fought through that game to keep the set on serve. Djokovic started showing signs of frustration. Trailing 5-6 in the tie-break, Novak struck the ball wildly in anger. The ball ricocheted back and unintentionally stuck a lineswoman on the throat. Djokovic, the World No.1, immediately realized that he had made a grave error and rushed over to check on the shocked lineswoman. But the damage was done. Tournament officials went by the rulebook and the match was awarded to Busta and Djokovic was disqualified from the tournament.

Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself

Richard Nixon

Our ancient mythologies are full of stories on anger and its effects.

A story that stands out in the Mahabharat about the devastating effects of anger is that of King Dhritrashtra. When the Pandavas came to meet him after defeating the Kauravas, Dhritrashtra was seething with anger, especially against Bheem for killing his son Duryodhan. Dhritrashtra asked Bheem to come closer to be embraced, ostensibly to congratulate him. Krishna, ever wily and wise, held Bheem back. Instead, he placed before the blind Dhritrashtra, a solid metal statue of Bheem and the powerful hug, arising from the pent-up anger of the old man, reduced the statue to rubble. Such was the strength of the anger that burnt inside Dhritrashtra. And when he realised what he had done he broke down like a child.

If history is any indication, leaders, generals and athletes who are driven by anger either become failures or remain miserable in their lives.

A few years ago, my sister came visiting and we decided to go out for dinner. While waiting at a traffic signal on our way to a restaurant, a car hit us from behind. I got out of my car, pulled the errant driver out of the car and started bashing him, like a scene from a Hindi movie.  After hitting him for ten minutes or so, I left him bleeding all over.

In another incident, after a family dinner, my cousin on reaching the car park realised that he had forgotten his cell phone in the café. We rushed back. The phone was not on the table and when we called, it was switched off. I could make out by looking at one of the employees that he must have stolen it. Without asking him anything, I started hitting him hard and banging his head on the kitchen slab. He accepted that he had stolen it and returned the phone. I had hit him hard, in fact so hard that he could have died.

Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved. 

Marcus Antonius

I had been living a life full of anger and frustration. I had, in anger, broken glass doors at home and had even smashed the television, hurting myself. Stress from work was spilling out on people in the form of anger. After repeated incidences, my wife and I decided that I should seek help from a counselor and try to get out of these violent outbursts. It took me twelve weeks of counseling to finally emerge out of the mess. Those years were the worst period of my life.

The emotion of anger can be triggered by many situations in life.  This anger can manifest in the form of violent outbursts on even trivial matters. It can negatively affect relationships.  Our anger tests our family members, friends or even in other unimportant interactions. Research shows that anger can adversely affect our health.  Illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attacks, insomnia, back pain, and digestive disorders are often linked to anger. Anger is a weakness. Losing your temper can sometimes mean losing respect, co-operation and the love of friends and family.

Like many of us, I used anger as a weapon to ‘control people’. But we forget that while it is not possible to control people, it is easy to influence them. Influencing people is always simpler and can be done with peace and love and maintaining cordial relations. Anger ultimately blocks us from whatever goal we are trying to achieve. Anger can never make us content and happy. Anger is counterproductive. Anger many times comes from an overblown sense of self-importance. We often get angry simply to draw attention to ourselves.

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

Chinese Proverb

You may work out regularly. As a health-freak, you routinely consume protein, vegetables and take a healthy diet and get a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Despite all the care, your body develops bouts of illnesses. The must wonder – What more should I do to lead a healthy lifestyle? Be aware that our feelings and thoughts create a subtle energy shift in our body. While diet, sleep and exercise influence physical health, a clean energy is needed to sustain a perfect physical body. Emotional stress and anger can manifest as illness in our physical body. Release past hurts. Forgive people to heal yourself. Remain calm and stable to cleanse the body. We have the power to create a healthy mind, which then creates a healthy body and a happy life.

Five things you could do to reduce your anger

1) Write a journal or log whenever you get angry. You will be surprised what it reveals. Monitor every episode of anger, from fleeting moments of frustration or impatience to extreme rage. For each one, note down the facts, the intensity of your anger 0-10 (where 0 = no anger, and 10 = maximum rage). This habit of systematically describing your angry outbursts is often all someone needs in order to gain a little perspective.

2) Watch yourself being angry. Roger Federer used to throw his racquet in anger during his earlier days, and says watching himself throwing tantrums put him off it for life. The angry are often proud of their anger. Even if they leave a scene having achieved nothing (such as shouting at a driver through the closed windows of their car). Re-imagine in your head the scene again. You will feel embarrassed.

3) Take care of yourself. Most of the time you will find you are angry because of alcohol, hunger, stress, fatigue, un-met needs, PMS. Get some sleep; take some time off; streamline your week; delegate; relax; improve your diet. In short, look after yourself.

4) Become less judgmental. Most of the things in life are a matter of opinion and not fact. Some religions propagate the worship of cows and some faiths eat beef. You may object to lovers kissing on public benches; there will almost always be someone who agrees with you, and others who staunchly oppose you. If you think it’s “just the way I was brought up” or “my way of doing things”— then it is silly to judge others for not following them. It helps to remind yourself of the many different ways in which humans around the world behave.

5) Understand that anger is a problem. Anger is an in-effective way of working in this world. It will mostly backfire and ruin relationships. Studies say 80% of the time people direct their anger on their family and friends. These are not the people you wish to antagonize. Understand that having warm relationship is the key to emotional health and wellbeing. And if you can’t sort it out yourself, seek professional help like I did. There is no shame in going to a doctor to sort it out. Treat anger like any other disease.

Anger is counterproductive. Anger hurts not just us but many other people as well. Always look at the bigger picture. Replace anger with love, gratitude and purpose. You will be a winner. You will build a solid foundation to reboot your life.

October 4, 2020

One Reply to “Reboot Your Life: Conquer your Anger to Find Real Happiness”

  1. Hi, read all your blogs and they are super helpful. Have you written also about how you started with your exercise routine post your surgery, what were the challenges that you faced while getting fit and how you overcome them, it took you how many years to be where you are currently in terms of fitness. I couldn’t find that write up. If it’s already there, please do share. Regards.

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