Why are we so Angry?

1-21-13-angry-man“For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20

It seems like rage is all the rage these days.  We have road rage, airport rage, movie theater rage, and school rage.  Almost every day we watch a television reports about someone who’s lost it!

And instead of the internet bringing us closer together, it has given a free and easy platform for the polarization of opinions to the extremes!  We have name calling instead of reason.  We choose up sides.  If you don’t agree with my side of an issue then you are stupid, narrow minded, or a bigot.  Intolerance isn’t tolerated!

A recent poll said that over half of Americans say that anger keeps them from sleeping, and nearly one in five say that anger has ruined their marriages or affected their sex lives.

So, why are we so angry?

One opinion is that we are so self-centered and our feeling of entitlement is so strong that our expectations are higher than ever.  We expect everything to go our way, to be perfect, to make us happy.  So when a waitress brings us the wrong beverage, a flight is cancelled, or a customer is taking too long at the supermarket checkout, we go ballistic!  We see it as a threat to our dignity, an insult, that we somehow have been demeaned.  I have a RIGHT to expect perfection!

In addition to our higher expectations, Americans have the highest stress levels in history.  And, stress reduces our tolerance for anything that slows us down, gets in our way or threatens our self-esteem.

We are always in a hurry, multitasking, driving while reading e-mail, watching television while playing Candy Crush and talking on the phone, all at the same time.  And if one thing goes wrong, and it will, we get angry.

We heap this stress on our kids as well.  We have them so involved in school choir, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, Spanish club, or any of a hundred other activities, that we jump from one stressful situation to another adding to their stress, instead of letting them be kids and enjoy a stress free lifestyle by keeping the organized activities to a selected few that they really enjoy.

How do we stop this alarming trend?  How do we return to “Love thy Neighbor?” And more importantly, how can we possibly love a God we don’t see when we are angry with our brother that we do see?

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love least.”  –Dorothy Day

Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Slow down, life doesn’t have to happen at 100 mph.  Enjoy the peace that comes from silence, take a walk, read a book, pray, or just sit in silence for a few minutes.
  2. Put the smart phone down!  I am surprised at the number of people who have their smart phone in their hands 24 hours a day.  The even sleep with it by their pillow, not to miss a text message or e-mail.  Stop it!  I leave my phone charging on the kitchen counter as soon as I get home from work.  No smart phone at night and never in the bedroom.
  3. Check e-mail only two or three times a day.  The reply can wait.  We don’t need to respond to every e-mail or text message right now!  And when you do check it, process your inbox to empty.  Then, stick to the plan.
  4. Limit your kid’s activities to the top few things they really enjoy.  Having fun playing a sport is destroyed when they have three more activities they’ve got to get to today.
  5. Show some kindness and consideration. Lower your expectations about perfection.  That waitress who got your order wrong is stressed too.  Give her a break, treat her with respect, and your service will improve.  I have had several waitresses tell me they are afraid to wait on certain customers.  They look for customers who treat them with respect and cut them some slack.  You’ll be amazed at the great service you’ll get.
  6. Be Humble.  Don’t take your frustrations out on others.  Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less.

Let’s try to replace our anger with kindness and gratitude.  Maybe together, we can help make this a more peaceful world, with God’s help.

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