Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to Be Angry

I'm in the middle of reading What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. In it he details the behavioural "habits" that keep relationships in the workplace from soaring and your potential capped. It's a good read.

One of his habits (Habit #7) is "Speaking when Angry." Since anger has been an almost life long wrestling partner for me, I perked up. He tells this story.

A Buddhist legend tells of a young farmer who was covered with sweat as he paddled his boat up the river. He was going upstream to deliver his produce to the village. He was in a hurry. It was a hot day and he wanted to make his delivery and get home before dark. As he looked ahead, he spied another vessel, heading rapidly downstream toward his boat. This vessel seemed to be making every effort to hit him. He rowed furiously to get out of the way, but it didn't seem to help.
He yelled at the other vessel, "Change direction, you idiot! You are going to hit me. The river is wide. Be careful!" His screaming was to no avail. The other vessel hit his boat with a sickening thud. He was enraged as he stood up and cried to the other vessel, "You moron! How could you manage to hit my boat in the middle of this wide river? What is wrong with you?"
As he looked at the other vessel, he realized that there was no one in the the other boat. He was screaming at an empty vessel that had broken free of its moorings and was going downstream with the current.
The lesson is simple. There is never anyone in the other boat. When we are angry. We are screaming at an empty vessel."
And then this little gem I picked up somewhere:
SINCE I HAVE tamed my anger,
i keep it in my pocket. When i
need it,
i take
it out.
--Rabbi Pinhas of Koretz

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