the easy way of anger

[Concluding our annual Guest Writer Series is none other than PH, aka Guest Writer #12 (of 12). I have not known PH long, but I have quickly gotten to know him well. He is deep. He is thoughtful. He makes people think and makes them laugh… typically at the exact same time … ]

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Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

I’m no stranger to being surprised at my own age and stage in life. Seems like just yesterday I was in college, feeling good, engaged, looking sexy as ever and was on top of the world. And by on top of the world I mean I was graduating then going on to grad school with zero US dollars and no job… but on top of the discovered world nonetheless. I had hopes and dreams and I was taking my first steps to accomplish them with excitement and confidence! I was about to start living my dream! Now I’m in sales in an industry I never thought I would be in. I’m older, still in shape (round being that shape), have a mortgage, home-improvement projects and regular maintenance, three kids, regular back pain, headaches, sinus problems, work stress, utility bills, and since my kids refuse to stop growing I’m constantly buying clothes for little humans that like to ruin them on the first day. By day two my son’s new shoes look like a homeless man has been wearing them for 35 years.

It’s not uncommon to get to a midpoint in life and look back wondering where the time went. On top of that, you’re not where you thought you’d be at this point. Perhaps you’re in a job you don’t like or on a career path heading somewhere you don’t want! Maybe you’re in a relationship that has been less than satisfying. That dream of a six-figure paycheck has come true… but you have to include the figures after the decimal point. Maybe your health has taken a turn that you didn’t anticipate and you’re now getting used to your “new normal.”  Family, bills, mortgage, kids, life, can all be overwhelming. I love and appreciate my life, but it certainly doesn’t look like I thought it would at this point.

It’s easy to get angry and stay angry. It’s easy to settle for mediocrity. It really takes little effort. It’s the easiest thing to do and yet it’s the hardest thing to live with. To filter our experiences, learn from them, stay positive, and grow as a better person is difficult. It is, however, a better path. It’s healthy. It’s happy. It’s fulfilling and rewarding. The alternative is just misery.

We’ve all met miserable people or been miserable. To constantly feel angry and bitter at life is miserable. Miserable people attract other miserable people. You’ve heard it before, “Misery loves company.” It can be exhausting to be around miserable people and it’s exhausting to be the miserable person. It’s miserable reading the word “miserable” that many times in this miserable paragraph! Seems like there’s no relief. No peace. No end to the grief in sight.

So young…and only one chin!! (2001)

One thing I have learned is that the fight is worth it. To put the effort in to renew your mind is never regrettable. I have never heard of a person saying, “I was miserable and frustrated and I changed my outlook and focus on life, getting myself to a better place, and now I wish I hadn’t. I’m happy and fulfilled, and it wasn’t worth the effort.” No one would say that.

The hardest part is taking the first step. Choosing to no longer have the chip on your shoulder. To choose to not look over the fence at what someone else has and become envious. To choose to leave the bitterness and anger behind and look forward. To stop playing the comparison game.  To choose to forgive. To choose to let go. To choose to begin being the person you’ve always wanted to be.

You know what’s funny? Many times this doesn’t require a major life change. I won’t be angry anymore if I get that new job. I won’t be angry anymore if I find a new spouse. I won’t be angry anymore if I can get my finances in better shape and live in a nicer home. I won’t be angry anymore if justice is served to those who have wronged me!

When we believe that simply changing our situation or surroundings will make us happier, then we have unfortunately chosen to believe a lie. It’s amazing how many times I’ve said to myself, “Once I get that new TV in the basement, then I won’t have to look at the old broken one and I’ll feel more satisfied and content.” Guess what? I was watching my 60-inch HDTV last night and I still wanted new rear speakers for the theater system. “Die Hard” never looked better, but there were still things I wanted. I wasn’t completely satisfied with my experience. Such is life. If you think that your anger and frustration will go away or that you will find contentment by simply changing your situation, then you’ll be on a lifelong journey in search of something that you’ll never attain.

The hard thing about choosing to move forward from anger and bitterness is that it starts in the mirror. It requires you to change, not your situation. It requires you to choose to move on without a guarantee that things will change. Peace, happiness, and contentment all come from inside, not outside. Joy can be found in the worst of situations because the source of joy is found within.  It’s a choice and a mindset.

Being angry is easy but it’s in no way worth it. Find the joy within. Seek it from something greater than your situation. Then you’ll see your situation completely differently.  Perhaps your life isn’t so bad. Perhaps you’re right where you need to be. Perhaps this is precisely the part of the journey you’re supposed to be on right now. This part won’t last forever. Make the most of it. Learn, grow, and enjoy it. Maybe this is the launching point for the next big thing that you’ve been dreaming of. 

Perhaps you have everything you want… you were just focusing on all the wrong things.

Enjoy the Journey…