It’s Monday, a day often associated with many negative emotions including dejection, lack of purpose and feeling angry.
We are sad and angry that the weekend is over and we have to go to work. We are angry that people on Twitter are saying nasty things we disagree about. Some of us are angry that our team didn’t make the playoffs or lost over the weekend. We are angry with our boss or co-worker. We are angry that the elections are looming and things are not looking good. We are angry that our voices seem to go unheard, and that social issues dear to us remain unsolved. We are angry that the pandemic is still here, that we are jobless or struggling to make ends meet.
There’s a lot to be angry about, if you want to be angry.
The surest way to make sure you are always offended and angry is to be on the lookout for things to be offended by and upset about.
We check our mentions on Twitter. We ask our friends “Oh what did they say about me when I wasn’t there?” We look up the trending news of the day in search of things that outrage us. We contact that toxic ex we promised ourselves we wouldn’t reach out to ever again. Of course we’re going to be angry! How could we not with so much to be angry about?
The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shared a piece of advice with the world that we should all keep top of mind:
“In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
This is not to say that you should allow people to walk all over you, or that you should ignore red flags and not have the tough conversations that must be had in life, be it with a friend, co-worker, boss or significant other.
It simply means that if you want to have less conflict in life, you should ask for it less, and look out for it less. Forgive more and stop opening your eyes and ears searching for something to be angry about.
Worry less about others, and more about yourself. We spend far to much time worrying about what other people are going to do than about what we are doing. Is your friend out to get you? Does your boss look down on you? Is your crush ever going to like you back? Do strangers on Twitter or Instagram not approve of how you live your life? Is the government trying to over-regulate our lives or unfairly raise our taxes? Will your choice for President get elected?
We spend so much time worrying about all of these things, and many more, that are completely out of our control. And the worst part is that all the anxiety, anger and sadness this generates prevents us from getting things done, from pursuing our dreams. We are distracting ourselves, worrying about others rather than focusing on ourselves and keeping our eyes on the ball.
It’s vital that we remember this: we should be far more concerned about our own ego and our own shortcomings than what others think about us. Think about it: you only have control over what you do, how you behave, the choices you make.
The brilliant Marcus Aurelius said it best when he wrote this roughly 2,000 years ago:
“The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do” – Marcus Aurelius
This doesn’t mean that you will ever be immune to what life throws at you. This doesn’t mean that everything in the world, your country or your life is going great and that nothing requires urgent fixing.
It’s about reframing the way you think so that when disturbances are thrown at you, you’re able to deal with them without negative emotions, recognizing that the only power you have is to choose how you will act. No one is saying you shouldn’t respond, but quite the opposite!
This is actually about focusing on your response, rather than on harboring unnecessary anger towards things you don’t control.
The goal is to make your response more effective, and for you to live a life less worried, sad and angry as a result of things you have no power to control.
No one can make you angry, only you have that power over yourself. Whatever anyone else does to you is on them, but your response is always on you.
You control you, and your actions. Remember that.
It’s all about perspective, and it takes continuous practice. Start today.
If you haven’t yet, check out this list of books to help you stay mindful and productive through turbulent times.
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Have a productive and mindful week!