Friday, December 14, 2012

The Kindness Project: Anger and Compassion

This is also posted at The Kindness Project

As I was flipping through  O, The Oprah Magazine (October 2012) I found an interesting quote from Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh*  under the Heading "How to Let Go of Anger". (Source: 20 Things Everyone Should Master by Age 40)

"Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: With mindfulness, you can see that she is unhappy, that she is suffering. You can see her wrong perceptions. You can see that she is not beautiful when she says things that are unkind. You can also see that you don't want to be like her. You'll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice—to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted." 

We all get angry. 

Of course we do.

But then what?

Do we let it build until it explodes out of us and we say something we regret to someone dear to us?

Do we hold it deep inside until it festers, causing more harm to us than to the person who has angered us?

I certainly do both of those things. I try not to, but of course it happens.

So, what if I did something different?

What if, instead, I considered how the person who is angering me may be suffering?

And how to do that in a way that isn't condescending or judgmental?

I don't know if I know the answer, but I keep repeating these words in my mind, "When compassion appears, anger is deleted".

Does this resonate with you? Why or why not?

*Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames


  1. I really like that quote! I do try to fight off anger with compassion and kindness, but I'm not perfect and I have my moments. Maybe if I keep repeating that as a mantra, I can be better. Thanks for sharing!

    1. seems even more important this week, to me at least. Hard to know what to do with the anger we feel about senseless things at time. I honestly believe that we cannot always succeed, but we should try.

  2. I finally have let go of anger. When something upsets me, I take a deep breath, question the issue, and then I move on.

    p.s. Meilleurs voeux for the holiday season. Let joy in!

    1. Fantastic Samantha-- what a lovely way to approach it. Your Christmas card was amazing, by the way-- thanks so much for thinking of me. :0)


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