Inner peace can be difficult to have when everything in life seems to be going wrong. If you find yourself in a situation where it feels like everything is going wrong, and you can’t find inner peace, don’t panic. That’s actually a challenge that all of us face once in a while. Instead, try to relax and remind yourself that even if things seem like they are out of your control, maybe it’s because this is the path we were meant to take.
How can you find happiness when it seems like everything is going wrong?
For those who’ve been through devasting life events, life often takes a sudden turn for the absolute worst. It’s hard to remember a time when you were happy and optimistic when all you can think about is the horrors that you were forced to witness firsthand. Shock and confusion are the first reactions that we experience after a devastating event. There is only one question that goes through your head now, and that is why me?
When you have anxiety, it can feel like the whole world is against you. But it’s really not the entire world, but one aspect of your life that’s causing the problem. This is a significant perspective shift to make since it narrows the issue to a manageable size.
A traumatic event can have a negative impact on your life. However, how you interpret it and how you react to that event will determine how you feel. You have the power to make this worse or better. The way you talk to yourself and interpret the events in your life determines how much emotional pain you will experience. You can choose to see life events as problems or as a way to grow and learn from them.
When I hear about devasting events, how do I maintain inner peace?
In the news, we rarely hear of happy stories, those stories where people do good works or are helping others. Instead, we hear of the divisions in society, wars around the globe, riots, and murders. How can we maintain our inner peace when so much wrong is happening around us which we can’t control?
One way is to relinquish unnecessary control, whether it’s over yourself or other people. In preserving your inner peace, you have to accept what comes, especially when it’s from sources you can’t predict or control. Focus your perspective on those things you do have control over, such as your feelings and actions. Do what you can do, what you can’t do, or what is out of your control; you need to let it go. Holding on to what I can’t control will only produce anxiety because I can’t change it.
Focus on the positives in life
When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good stuff and only focus on the wrong things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something minimal.
You get what you look for. In other words, if your perspective is focused on the negatives in life, then all you will experience are the negatives. Yet, focusing our perspective on the positives, even the smallest of positives, will help you to see more positives around you.
Here are perspective shifts you can do …
1. This Too Shall Pass
2. Some Things are Going Right
3. I Have Some Control
4. I Can Ask for Help
5. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties
Here are positive thoughts you can work on …
1. Be Thankful You Woke up This Morning
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
3. Don’t Judge Others
4. Take Control of Your Mornings
5. Focus on the Good Things in Your Life No Matter How Small
6. Look at the Funny Side
Inner peace will stay with you so long as you remain focused on thoughts and behaviors which enable inner peace.
Finding hope and inner peace in life is not always an easy task. Still, a hopeless life can be gloomy, depressed, and anxious. In this article, I write about ways to find hope in life, thus happiness and inner peace.
It is essential to find and sustain hope in order to lead a happy and peaceful life. Yet most of us know what it’s like to live a desperate life. A life where nothing is going towards us and nobody understands. The ‘take him out’, ‘sleep’ or my favorite, ‘get through’ incentive doesn’t help at all. If only it was that easy to overcome the feeling of despair.
Hope is a mechanism of the human brain
Hope is a mechanism developed by the human brain to deal with contexts and situations that are not conducive to survival. Without, where can we find a sense of hope in the future or hope in someone’s talent, our motivation, our will to go forward? In the worst times, it’s hope that keeps me going.
That “knowledge” that says there will be better things in the future. Hope forces me to find the impossible possible because I believed it was possible and therefore claimed that the possible was already real.
Author and evangelicalist Hal Lindsey put it beautifully: “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”
The hope and inner peace of helping others
There are many challenges faced by those who provide care for others. Yet they know the inner peace and joy that comes with helping others.
“Studies have shown that even simply volunteering can change a person’s health and outlook. A United Health Group study stated that ‘We now know people who volunteer feel better physically, mentally and emotionally better. And our volunteers tell us that they are convinced their health is better because of the things they do when they volunteer.’” (hopegrows.net)
It’s natural to care for others’ suffering, and we’re reminded of this important attribute by recognizing how we can heal in our own lives. It’s important to be patient with ourselves and others in this process. If we all contribute to this healing process, then we can break through those walls of self-sabotage and start to see changes in ourselves that are positive and significant. These changes will lead us to inner peace.
What’s the best way to deal with your fear and anger when witnessing other’s suffering? Stop to consider what else is going on, what message the suffering is trying to convey, and what you can do to help the sufferer heal. Their healing may teach you about yourself, giving you the gift of healing yourself.
… “(W)henever you feel overwhelmed, go back to the basics: pause, ground yourself, take a few very deep breaths, exhaling negativity, inhaling calm. Take the time to notice what you are feeling, holding the pain of the world with compassion, … breathing in Peace and Hope” (shamanicspiritualhealing.com)
My suggestions for finding hope in life
Do what you know you can do. Move forward by doing the things you know you can do. Maybe you can make the bed or get out of bed, celebrate small victories, as these will eventually become the necessary lessons for finding hope.
Take some kind of action. Helping someone else not only shows that there are good people in the world, but it also gives you the success and external pride of supporting another person. This feeling of pride that makes you feel healthy will lead to a sense of hope knowing that if you can help someone else, you can help yourself too.
Surround yourself with optimism. The attitudes of those around us affect our mood. Surrounding yourself with positive and hopeful people makes you positive and optimistic. Find out who are the positive people in your life and follow them.
Allow inspiration. Read inspiring books or quotes, strengthen your faith, return to your place of worship, do whatever it takes to believe and feel the existence of something greater than you. Knowing that a prayer community wants to help you and believe that something is higher than you gives us hope that we are not alone.
Spend time in nature. It is great to see and feel the depth of nature’s beauty. Look for the tiny insects and creatures. Think about how they survive and even thrive in their environment, given their size and lack of intelligence. If the insect can do it, you can too!
How you find hope in life is essential to finding the motivation to move forward, grow, and be the best person you can be. Do not lose your hope. Hold on and enjoy the ride.
Anxious feelings are understandable when returning to everyday life after the pandemic. There will be a process of readjustment. There are bound to be thoughts or worries about the changes that are happening in your life. It is natural for people to want to stay in their comfort zone. Entering the unknown is what causes our anxious feelings. However, there are several benefits to returning to everyday life, so it is crucial to fight those thoughts.
Many states are relaxing the pandemic restrictions allowing us to “freely move about the cabin.” We’ve been physically away from people for over a year, communicating primarily through the computer. Interacting with people after so long of a time can be anxiety producing. We’re either unsure of the safety of our health or uncertain about how to interact with people again. “So, as more people get vaccinated, and we accelerate toward a new normal, is it any wonder that some people are feeling hesitant to let go of precautions?” Source: NYTimes
Nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Stress in America report. (USAToday) These anxious feelings happen most often when we feel out of control in a situation, or when the change is unknown. As humans, we prefer to think that we are in control of our life.
We spent many months adjusting to a “new way of life,” so it will take some time to again adapt to another new way of life, even if that life is what it used to be. Your lifestyle may return to what it used to be, but you aren’t who you used to be. You have been affected by living through a pandemic. Your mindset and outlook on life are different from what they used to be.
What is normal? Typically, normal is referred to anything we sense as a known or an expectation of a way life is to be. In other words, normal can be fluid, changing as we change. So, why be anxious about going back to normal? Let’s create a new normal!
In June 2020, I wrote an article, “The New Normal – 7 Valuable Lesson Opportunities To Learn Now” suggesting that we take the positive changes the pandemic caused in us, keeping them as we return to “normal.” My suggestion of almost a year ago remains valid. An LA Times article reports that some 46% said they do not feel comfortable going back to living life like before the pandemic. (LATimes)
How to cope with the anxious feeling:
1. Take it slow – No one is forcing anyone to immediately jump back into society. As you feel comfortable, start slow. Join a group of close friends, branching out from there.
2. Don’t wait for the anxiety to go away – A strong reason for your fear is the unknown. Until you venture into society, it will remain unknown. Therefore your anxious thoughts will remain. It’s only by venturing out of your comfort zone that you’ll reduce the anxiety.
3. Let go of resentments – We can’t control other people. There is no reason to hold resentment about other’s actions or the government’s actions. Control what you can control, your emotions, and your responses to what is happening. If you’re blaming others, let it go. Don’t let someone else dictate your happiness.
4. Change your perspective – Look at the world and those around you in a positive manner. We get what we look for. In other words, if all I see is negatively, then all I’ll experience is that negativity. So look to the positive, and you’ll get positive experiences in return.
5. Teach others – As you’re learning to cope and feel less anxious, teach others how you are doing it so that they too can move forward. Not only will you help another person, but altruism is proven to make the giver feel positive and more at peace.
If you’re feeling anxious, know that you aren’t alone. You can do things to reduce your anxiety, but the key is not to go through this alone. Reach out to others for support and camaraderie. And if you need a professional, find one of those, too.
Happiness has more importance than just feeling good. Happiness is also essential to your health, longevity, success, and relationships. This is all proven by research and science. Happiness is healthy!
We’re seeking something more out of life, and happiness is what we think will solve our issues. Yet happiness comes and goes; it’s a fleeting emotion. As I’ve written in previous articles, our goal should not be happiness. Instead, our goal should be inner peace.
Therefore, happiness is not the end; it’s a means we use to get to the end, inner peace.
The importance of happiness is often discounted in a culture obsessed with material success. Still, it’s hard to purchase something that will make you happy in the long term.
Your happiness isn’t just important to you. It’s also important to your friends, family, and your employer.
Consider these ideas:
- Happy people are healthier. Happier people get sick less frequently and less severely on average. Happy people visit the hospital less often. A bad mood is bad for your immune system, too.
- Happy people are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Your physical and mental health are at greater risk when you’re not happy.
- Healthcare is costly. Happiness can be a great way to save a lot of money.
- Happy people live longer. Several studies suggest that the happiest people live up to 10 years longer than those that are the least happy. Since happy people are healthier, they also tend to live longer too. Happiness can do more to boost your lifespan than just about anything else. It’s free, too.
- Happy people are more resistant to stress. Unhappy people are more easily overwhelmed when stressed. Happy people are better able to handle stress, and the effect that stress has on them is decreased. Being happy makes you more capable.
- Happy people are more successful. It’s worth asking if successful people are successful because they’re happy. Or are they happy because they’re successful? It’s likely a little of both. Happy people are more productive, have better relationships, and handle stress better.
- Happy people enjoy more robust relationships. Would you rather be around someone that was happy most of the time or someone that was not? Being happy can boost all of your relationships, including those with your partner, family, friends, and coworkers.
- Think about the happiest people you know. They tend to have great friendships and intimate relationships. They are close to their families, too.
- Unhappy people are often alone and have challenging relationships when they do have people in their lives.
- Happy people get more done. Happy people are more productive and are better employees. Think about how much better you take care of your home when you’re happy versus those times you’re unhappy. If you have an open position at work, consider happiness as a factor when hiring.
- Happy people have more friends. Of course, they have more friends. Happy people attract others. We enjoy being around people that are in a positive emotional state. We avoid those that aren’t. If you want to have more plans for the weekend, be happier!
- Happy people are more creative. A happy mind is more open to new ideas and concepts. A happy person is more likely to have a sound creative idea than someone unhappy.
- If you’re struggling to find a solution to a problem, put yourself in a happy state first. You’ll be much more likely to find the answer you need.
We often postpone happiness for a later date. We decide that we’ll be happy after we finish school, buy a house, save a certain amount of money, or find the person of our dreams. This is a mistake. Being unhappy harms yourself and everyone else in your life.
Do yourself and everyone else in your life a huge favor and make your happiness a priority!
Happiness! Everyone wants to be happy, right? Even animals are instinctively driven toward comfort and away from discomfort. Yet, so many of us feel that becoming happy is too difficult. We look for the “trick” or the quick fix in finding happiness.
But what if being happy is simpler than you think? What if I told you that you can be happy every day, regardless of what’s happening in your life? I’m not naive. I, too, had to learn happiness and to find my inner peace. That’s why I know it’s possible. Because I’ve done it!
There are many simple and easy things you can do each day to increase the odds of feeling happy. You’ll even enjoy doing them since their self-rewarding behaviors.
Take control of your happiness with these ideas:
Listen to music that you love
There aren’t many things that can influence your emotions faster than hearing a song that you love. You can find just about any song you please online for free these days. Set aside a few minutes each day to listen to a song or two that boosts your mood.
It only takes a moment to think of the good things in your life. You probably have food to eat, a friend or two, or a place to sleep that’s out of the rain. In fact, you probably have more than that. Remind yourself of the good things you have instead of focusing on the things you lack. Positive thoughts lead to more positive thoughts.
Spend some time outdoors
Sit in the sun, take a walk, or work in the garden. If you telework, bring your laptop outside and work. Your mind, body, and spirit need a little sun and fresh air each day. It can do wonders for your outlook on life.
Think happy thoughts
Your thoughts lead and create your emotions. If you think about something stressful, you’ll feel stressed. Think about something that makes you happy, and you’ll feel more optimistic. What are your happiest memories? There’s no harm in spending a few minutes thinking some happy thoughts! Happiness begets more happiness.
Studies have shown that one of the most potent ways to increase happiness is to progress toward a goal. It could be doing one extra push-up, learning a new word in Italian, losing a pound, or learning a new scale on the piano. It doesn’t take a lot of progress to feel good. Focus on the progress made and not on how far you still have to go.
Spend time with others
Back in the day, it was hard to find time to spend by yourself, but we’re more isolated these days. We chat with people online, text, and spend a lot of time alone. It’s essential to have a meaningful face-to-face conversation once in a while.
It’s very challenging to be happy when you’re holding a grudge. Forgive quickly and easily if you want to be happier. That doesn’t mean you have to give the other person another chance. Forgiving someone doesn’t have to include the possibility of a repeat performance.
An optimistic perspective produces a happier mood than a pessimistic perspective. It’s essential to be realistic, too. Foolish optimism might feel good at the moment, but the pain is on its way. Have a hopeful but reasonable outlook on life.
If you’ve been sitting all day, going for a long walk or a bike ride changes how you feel for the better. Being sedentary is hard on your mood. A little exercise can definitely boost your happiness.
Relax at least once each day. You could close your eyes and sit in the sun. Meditate. Take a nap. Do a little yoga. It’s up to you. Stress is an obstacle to happiness.
You don’t need a million dollars, a yacht, or a full-time housekeeper to be happy. A few simple behaviors done daily can move you closer to feeling happy each day.
What are you prepared to do today to enhance your happiness? Make a plan and add to your positive emotions.
If you’re ready to explore life coaching, I would be honored to help. You can read more about my practice or call me directly at 301-850-2177.
Inner peace and happiness are possible even during a long-lasting pandemic. The “new normal” is a phrase that has entered our everyday speech, along with terms such as “social distancing,” “physical distancing,” or “PPE.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been changed.
To think that almost a year ago, we weren’t living under the restrictions of a pandemic! I still remember the day I was told to leave work. We all were under the impression we’d return in a couple of weeks. Just a brief “vacation” of sorts. Who knew that almost a year later, I’m still working from home. Life has changed for all of us, and we don’t know when it’ll end. And that not knowing is the origin of our stress taking away our inner peace.
The idea of a “new normal” is problematic and causes many of us to feel anxious. Friends and clients of mine worry that life may never be how it was before the pandemic. Yes, that may be true. But I wonder if a return to life as it was is in our best interest.
How The Modern World Necessitates Inner Peace
“The modern world takes a heavy toll on all of us. Smart technology, internet everywhere we go, and an emerging all-access work culture that expects us to be “on” whenever possible. Lunch breaks become shorter, weekends become extinct, and vacations become something you put off for your retirement. And it’s not always a matter of choice.” Source: hackspirit.com
Whenever we don’t see an end to hardship or feel trapped without any choices, our stress and anxiety increase. Think of your current situation to understand this concept. The answer to finding inner peace and happiness during a pandemic is found in our perceptive shift. We need to find choices in our life to stop feeling trapped.
When we focus on a new normal, we compare our present moment with our past moments. As I reflect on my past moments before COVID, I recall many positive aspects of my life and our society. Yet, I also remember that there were negative aspects, too.
Might it be possible that this time of “difference” in your life and society may also be a time to create a “new normal”? Might this present moment be an opportunity to move into the future of possibilities?
I propose a shift in perspective where we focus on the positive elements of now and plan how we’ll continue them when the pandemic is no longer an issue.
Instead of a return to normal, let’s proactively work toward a positive new normal, which will, over time, simply be lived as “normal.”
Feel the truth that you’re safe and loved
“Remind yourself that you’re breathing. And hopefully, you’re physically protected,” says Julie Potiker, mindful self-compassion teacher and author of Life Falls Apart, But You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos “Think about the people you care about, and the people who care about you,” Potiker suggests, saying that focusing on that can lower your panic-response. “Let the truth of that warm your heart.” Source: oprahmag.com
My Lesson Opportunities To Find Inner Peace During COVID
Normal is what we’re used to, but our routines have been challenged for almost a year. Longing for normal means a longing for the past. Challenge yourself to find the positives of today and look to a “new normal” filled with possibilities.
Let go of victim thinking
These COVID events are not targeted to you individually, even if you are affected by them. A victim is a person devoid of choices. You have options today. Some aspects of our lives are beyond our control, yet other elements are in your control. Learn the difference and focus on those areas of your life you can change and make changes.
Re-connection with family
Quarantines, for better or worse, have forced families to be together. No family dynamic is perfect, but think about it, has your family grown closer? Have you eaten more dinners together or started game nights? Lack of commuting, virtual schooling, and telework are providing families more time together. How can this togetherness become your new normal?
Find your inner peace
Anger has a way of taking over life, spilling onto people or events we aren’t even angry about. Our society is sharing in this everyday new normal, enabling us to better understand each other in our shared experience. Take the energy of your anger and shift it to a passion of service toward your family, community, or society.
I grew up in the decades before the internet and the existence of social media. I recall spending much of my time with my friends in person. We can’t physically spend time with friends during quarantine, but we can use our technology for good. Spend time with your friends via the internet, where you can see each other and share in a group conversation and group activities. If this interaction with your friends is new to you, how can you maintain this new normal in the future?
Be kind to others and yourself
As a society, we are coping with the pandemic in our own ways. I’ve experienced, though, that many people seem a bit nicer and more patient. We’re in this together. Many messages we hear lately are reminders to take care of ourselves during the quarantine. Self-care is essential for us to do daily. How will you continue, daily, taking care of yourself and being kind to others in this new normal?
What aspects of this future new normal would you like to keep? What would you like to change or stay the same? Make a list for you and your loved ones.
I challenge you to shift your perspective to look at this period of life from a negative attitude and look at it from a positive one. We can create a future filled with positive experiences. Don’t let this past year pass you by without walking away with healthy learning. Let’s proactively shape the future we want to live in.
Grief is a typical human experience, but the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many of the ways we usually manage the loss. Here are my tips on coping healthily with your grief.
Grief is one of those emotions that many of us think of only during the loss of a loved one. And while this is the grief, many of us experience grief, and the grieving process, can happen whenever we have a loss.
During COVID-19, we have experienced many deaths, and those events elicit feelings of grief, but almost everyone has experienced loss due to the coronavirus. We have lost employment, lost freedom of movement lost ability to meet with family and friends as we used to, and lost a sense of control over our lives. All of these are losses that can lead us to feel grief.
The Mayo Clinic reports that “In addition to feeling grief over the loss of life caused by COVID-19, you’re likely grieving the loss of your normal routine.” Check out my article on this topic written a couple of months ago by clicking here.
“Not only are people now grappling with the loss of normalcy, but also with anticipatory grief, or the feeling that greater loss is yet to come.” (Very Well Mind) Some of the grief we feel comes from feeling that we are not in control and worry about future changes. Focusing on the unknown of the future causes stress and anxiety, increasing the grief felt due to our losses.
Grief affects everyone differently, and for some, grief can be expressed through depression and anger. If you or a loved one appears to be depressed or is becoming “short-fused” or angry, the root issue may be stress created by underlying grief of a loss of normalcy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief, try these steps for coping with your grief. They work for me.
Using mindfulness, pay attention to your emotions. Keeping your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, experiencing your current feelings, will help guide you to understand those feelings you wish to change. Then you can take control of changing those feelings.
Stay connected to people. Even though many of us are social distancing and not gathering in groups, don’t isolate. Meetings with individuals while physically distancing allows you to stay in touch, as does technology.
Practice self-care. Do actions that are positive and healthy for you. Eat well, pick up hobbies, rest, and be kind to yourself.
Feeling well takes time. Changes in your emotional outlook take time, so have patience with yourself. You will feel better in hindsight, but while going through the emotion, it feels like forever. Remind yourself to let the process take its course.
Validate your feelings. Feelings are simply our response to a situation. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. So, how you’re feeling is valid. If you wish to change your feelings, fine, work on that, but don’t judge your feelings or use phrases like “I shouldn’t feel this way.”
Grief from COVID-19 is not your fault. Your losses are yours, as are your feelings. You have control over your response to what has happened to you. You are empowered to cope with your grief, healthily.
Why aren’t you happy? This is a question we often ask ourselves, answering ourselves with excuses we tell ourselves. Can I be happy? Sure, you can, but are you sure you want to be happy?
I find that today, listening to the news and hearing people bickering about politics is not easy to be happy. Even if I am happy, once I hear about more violence in the country, I’m no longer happy. So why aren’t you happy? Try to be happy in today’s culture!
Fair observation. Outside forces and experiences can and do take away our happiness. Being happy isn’t always easy, but it does happen. You may want to check out a previous article of mine I titled: “Happiness Is Not The Answer But Here’s What Is.”
In that article, I wrote: “Happiness is a fleeting emotion which comes and goes. As such, happiness can’t be a life goal. This is why I don’t encourage people to seek happiness as a life goal.” My premise is that we need to focus on inner peace instead of a fleeting of happiness. But for the purpose of this article, I’m content with using the word happy.
Many times we lose our happiness due to outside factors, but I find I lose my happy feeling because of my own inner issues. We can be our worst enemy when it comes to keeping or losing our happiness. The positive side to this is that if I’m my worst enemy, can’t I also be my own best friend? Yes!
Our thoughts are actually our own creation. They may seem to pop up in our heads, but in reality, we create them. So, since we create them, we can change or delete them. A favorite quote by Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D., is “just because I think it doesn’t mean its true.” Just because there’s a negative thought about me, doesn’t mean its a right thought. As a child, I used to have the thought I was Superman. Obviously, having that thought didn’t make it accurate. So why do we put faith in negative thinking about ourselves?
Here are my ways of keeping my happiness:
- Thoughts: Learn and believe that I’m the creator of my thoughts, and so I can change those thoughts whenever I want. If you’re not feeling happy, check your thoughts to discover what you’re telling yourself. If you’re telling yourself unhappy thoughts, then, of course, you will feel unhappy.
- Perspective: The way we view the world around us becomes our reality. If we focus our thoughts on the negative, of course, all you will perceive is negative. The more you look for the positive, the more positive you will find. And if your perspective is positive based, so will your thoughts.
- Kindness: Have you noticed that many times we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves? Learn to treat yourself as you treat others. If you are patient with others or give them the benefit of the doubt, do the same to yourself.
- Mindfulness: Practice living in the moment, feeling what you’re feeling without judgment. Learn those times when you aren’t happy, and teach yourself ways to become happy.
- Keep Going: Just when life is going great and you’re feeling comfortable, we tend to self-sabotage. We stop ourselves just before we achieve our success through the thoughts of not feeling worthy or of not thinking you really can achieve this. Don’t allow those thoughts to influence you. You made it this far, keep going.
Why aren’t you happy? It might be your own thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can once again feel happy.
Angry at society appears to be the primary emotion of our time. As this angry feeling festers, it can lead to feeling hatred. Yes, there is also kindness found in society, and I do know people who are not angry. What can we do with our angry emotions so that we can turn them into a sense of being peaceful, and we don’t end up feeling hatred?
Angry at society? Why is there so much anger? We see it in the streets, in demonstrations, on social media, etc. I have my theories, but the focus of this article is not on the why, or the origin, of the anger. Instead, I write this article on anger from the perspective of mindfulness.
In mindfulness, we are urged to remain in the moment, non judgmentally. Following that suggestion, I don’t necessarily need to understand why someone is angry. Assuming anger is taking a person from their peace, I guide that person to shift their perspective and so take action in the hopes of returning that person to a sense of peace.
As a counselor and practitioner of mindfulness, I don’t perceive anger as either positive or negative. The feeling is the feeling; what I do with the feeling is healthy or unhealthy. So, anger in and of itself is not the issue. My perception and actions based on anger is the issue. Therefore, many people these days who are angry are not what bothers me. What bothers me is what they are doing with their anger.
Anger, as an emotion, has its place. Anger has been used successfully as a means of defense against danger, both physical and emotional. Anger, felt when we perceive a threat, produces in us an increase of the chemical adrenaline. This chemical prepares the body for a physical fight and later coping with the event’s emotions.
In society, whenever we feel that our ideas, beliefs, or opinions are attacked, our basic instinct kicks in, resulting in an angry response. Anger is undoubtedly the most judgmental of our emotions. It’s also the most moralistic, self-righteous, and repudiating. Most of us will defend, sometimes to the death, what we believe.
Attacking a person’s beliefs or opinions is akin to an attack on the person themself. Why? Because we are the thinker of our thoughts! In essence, if you attack my thoughts, you attack what I created, and in so doing, you attack the creator, me.
Anger is probably the only emotion that we consciously cling to. Think about the last time you felt happiest. How long did that feeling, in its intensity, last? And when the feeling drifted away, many of us say, “I wish it lasted longer.” Yet, when it comes to anger, when was the last time that feeling of anger simply drifted away? For many of us, we hold onto it, ruminating over and over the offense, which was done.
Why do we hold on to anger? Let’s examine what the emotion of anger does for us:
- It provides us with a feeling of power.
- It enables us to believe that we are in control of the situation.
- It confirms to us that we are right and correct in our stance.
Examining this list, why wouldn’t I want to hold onto anger? If I give up feeling angry, I may feel less powerful and less in control, and I may discover that I’m not entirely correct in my thoughts or beliefs. Yet, if I am willing to give over my power and control to a reflection of my thoughts, I have now opened myself up to self-examination!
Self-examination, one of the goals of meditation, can also be a means of growth. But self-examination can be scary as we uncover aspects about us that we may not wish to open or issues that even we don’t like. As we hold onto our anger, we don’t allow for this self-examination. In many cases, that which angers us in others is what we are covering up in ourselves!
As I stated earlier, anger isn’t the issue; it’s our reaction to anger, which can be an issue. Therefore I differentiate between what I call a “healthy anger” instead of “unhealthy anger.” For example, you witness an injustice and become angry as your belief system speaks to justice for all. In this example, your motivation for feeling anger is not self-righteous indignation or a sense to overpower someone “because I can.” In this example, your anger will most likely result in action toward resolving the injustice, whereby all parties involved will be granted a sense of peace. As peace overtakes the anger, one is willingly open to self-examination.
The unhealthy anger is that anger, which I hold in a self-righteous manner with no motivation or intention toward a sense of peace or self-examination.
The person who practices mindfulness, meditation, and self-examination recognizes within them a sense of peace. Note that I don’t speak of the “feeling” of peace, rather, the “sense” of peace. Feelings, such as anger and happiness, are fleeting; they come and go. Having a “sense” of peace is not fleeting. A sense of inner peace speaks to an awareness of oneself within your environment. We can feel angry, happy, sad, etc. while at the same time maintaining a sense of peace.
People such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. no doubt felt anger as part of their motivation of why they acted as they did. But a reason their actions were not violent and their rhetoric was of love is that they had a sense of inner peace. This sense of inner peace allowed them to feel the anger, yet not allowing them to betray their values.
When we feel emotions and act in unison with our core beliefs, not violating our true selves, we are at peace. We may feel anger at situations or even toward specific people. Still, in maintaining a union between those feelings and our actions with our core beliefs, we retain our sense of inner peace.
Our goal is not to stop feeling angry. Instead, our goal is to learn how to respond to anger healthily. Here are my steps for healthy anger:
- Before feeling angry, practice mindful meditation and spend time in self-examination.
- When you feel anger, find your inner peace to help change your perspective to understand the situation from everyone’s viewpoint.
- Take action in union with your core beliefs and values, which will ultimately lead to the spreading of peace.
- When the situation is over, refuse the urge to hold onto the anger. Let your inner peace overtake the anger allowing yourself time to re-charge.
I agree that there is much in our world toward which to feel anger. Use the steps above to rise to the challenge of using your anger healthily.