Monday, April 1, 2013

Anger Mangement and Abe Lincoln

A friend recently attended a workshop in which the topic was managing emotion in the workplace. The biggest issue for everyone was dealing with anger.

Anger invades much of our lives today. We feast on it like vampires feed on blood.  The more anger in our lives, the more we seek out. We are addicted to it. It is so pervasive in our society that courses are taught in managing it.

Think about it. Ratings on most reality shows are driven by the "villain." That contestant gets angry, throws a temper tantrum, and the ratings go up. It doesn't matter whether the show is about people in the jungle or women in New York. The formula is the same. Get angry - get ratings.

Unfortunately, that carries over into everything we do. To get what we want and force things to go our way, we pitch a fit. We lay on our horns when we are driving, we yell into our cell phones at restaurants, and we don't tolerate differing opinions.

Abe Lincoln is popular right now.  Perhaps we should respond to him, not as a movie star, but as a man who was surrounded by angry people. The country, literally torn in two by anger, was the worst of it but close to him, the men within his cabinet were angry with themselves, their personal lot, the endless war they thought would be over in months. His wife was despondent over the loss of another child and his eldest son was a stranger.

Lincoln said,"Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."  In other words, sustained anger is a choice. We decide to be angry all the time.  

Strong emotion interferes with our ability to reason and obstructs our logic. When we argue with friends or family true communication is non-existent. We don't say what we mean and we shut out what others try to express. 

If we follow Lincoln's advice and elect to be happier, what might we accomplish?  Perhaps we won't be able to do things as astounding as pushing the 13th Amendment through, but who knows? If we decide to be happier, what might we hear or do that could change our lives?

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