May 10, 2015

Do you Need an Attitude Adjustment?

The American Psychological Association defines anger as, “An emotional antagonism toward someone or something you feel done you wrong.” In my case fits of rage have focused on things that won’t do what I expect them to do . . . like the weed eater that I hurled into the woods when it wouldn’t start or the radio I launched from the deck because it wouldn’t play.

I maintain that I have inherited what the family calls the Houck Temper gene which is a reference to my Grandpa Houck who was known to get angry with both people and things.

Franciscan Friar and ecumenical teacher, Richard Rohr tells a story about a monk with anger issues who lived in a monastery in the desert. Assuming that complete isolation and constant contemplation would enable him to conquer his ill temper, the monk moved to a cave to live in complete isolation.

One day he filled his earthen jug with water, and when he put it down, it fell over. He filled it again and it fell over again. After one more fill and fall, he picked up the jug and in a rage he threw it to the ground where it broke in many pieces.

Realizing that his anger problem had nothing to do with where he lived, he returned to the monastery and announced that his experiment with isolation failed. In his report to the monks, he might have used the words of Pogo who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

The only difference between someone who keeps his cool and someone who loses it is the loser settles for less than he can be.

From Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus, we read this passage about controlling our temper:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.         
Ephesians 4:31-32