After anger


Alice Yu

An influential Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure, Confucius was born in 551 B.C. in the Lu state of China. Many of his aphorisms have been passed down throughout the years and his teachings are preserved in the Analects, a collection of sayings focused on outlining the ethical models of which family and public interaction should be based off of. His teachings stemmed from the principle of loving others while exercising self-discipline and staying humble. Confucius died in 479 B.C. but his policies went on to influence imperial decisions during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties.
More than once, people have asked me how I’m so happy on Monday mornings, or on any morning for that matter. The secret to such happiness lies in my belief that sadness and anger only lead to even more sadness and anger. We are greatly affected by what surrounds us and so I try to surround myself with positive things and be a source of positivity. Of course, I get angry and upset at times, but I force myself to move on. To use the past to taint my future is a nonsensical idea. There’s always something I can do to make myself feel better that doesn’t involve making others feel worse.
The other reason I’m able to stay so happy is because of my fear of negativity. I’ve been angry before and I’ve hurt people before. I don’t ever want to experience the shame of doing so again. Sure, it felt triumphant to stomp on someone else’s ego, but only for a short while. Following close on the trail of triumphance is shame and remorse. My rash decision made in a matter of seconds is going to stay with someone for a time much longer than it should. Knowing that, how could I consciously inflict such a burden on someone?
I’ve also been on the receiving end of words and actions born from anger. In those instances, I try to understand the other person’s emotions and excuse their actions. After all, everyone needs to release their anger at some point. Instead of viewing it as an attack on me, I see it as a release of negativity that happened to flow in my direction.
To remedy the dangers of anger, I mentally walk myself to the path of happiness. I find the root of my unhappiness and look for a constructive way to solve the problem. Many times, it involves calm communication. Using an attacking tone to address a problem can only force the receiving person to go on the defensive, but if I try to phrase my intentions as a suggestion or a conversation, there’s less of a desire to fight back with negativity.
If the cause of my anger is one I cannot face, such as an unhappy encounter with a stranger I’ll never meet again, then I store it safely in the past. In fact, most of my anger stems from someone else’s anger towards me. If I understand that they might be having a bad day, then I assure myself that I’m not an incompetent person who deserves to be the subject of ridicule.
Unfortunately, negativity is more infectious than positivity. Because of that, we should all be more aware of what we’re contributing to the world in terms of attitudes and atmospheres. When we’re angry, don’t act rashly. When we’re happy, smile brighter. When we’re sad, cry it out to get it out of our systems. All in all, find a way to get back to happiness and continue the cycle of happiness.
By Alice Yu
art by Maddy Mueller