Spilled Milk, My Daughter, Anger and Me

I know why I get angry sometimes.  It’s because I’m part Irish. Quick to anger, like a match that goes from a petite piece of wood with a red cap to a burning flame that can singe a finger.  Sometimes I get angry because I’m stressed.  My job is to raise the two most important people who’ve walked on the face of the earth.  Other times I get angry because I’m busy.  I need to grade these papers, send these emails, and pay these bills.  Can’t my daughters see that?  How are they so blind.  I have (had) lots of excuses for anger.

When I get angry I feel it well up inside me, I imagine that it’s a mushroom cloud, black and red.  It starts just above my navel and rises through my chest, passing through my heart like a speeding fog until it reaches my vocal cords where it strums the shouts I loose from my mouth.

“Stop. Don’t do that.  Go to timeout”

The other day I felt the anger coming.  The spark was lit when my daughter spilled a cup of milk she was trying to carry from the kitchen counter to the table.  If I’ve told her once, I’ve told her a hundred times to take one thing at a time.  She had her fork and cup and the cup fell to the floor.  I let the spark get just below my heart until the calmness of mind descended faster than the cloud of anger could rise. I remembered that anger is a creation, something that I can create and destroy with a single thought.

I thought like a monk:

if you look at the thought of anger, it will vanish like frost under the morning sun

I took a moment and it was gone.  I got down on my knees and helped my daughter clean the mess.  Instead of shouts of anger, frustration, and madness- there were smiles of understanding, eyes of empathy, and hands of helpfulness.

James Altucher once wrote that we cling to our excuses like babies cling to a blanket and I’ve had plenty of excuses for being angry.  Heritage, stress, lack of time – each my own excuse for something I didn’t have a better answer for.  Each lived in my home, caged like an angry bird that I would let erupt and have it’s vengance.  I’ve set those fiery phoenixes free- and they won’t come back. I kept them cooped up here, providing for them through my excuses and mental frailty.

This was my first example of having something from my focus on happiness have a real effect in my life. It’s easy to read words on a computer screen, re-package them and say “Hey, try this, it might work, I read it somewhere with lots of big words.”  Action is the tent pole that supports this upcoming year, that by focusing deeper on things in my life, I can improve my life.

I feel like an olympic sprinter who is looking at the nuances of a start, of a stride, of a stretch and squeezing out even more goodness.  Here are my other posts about happiness.  More to come…

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