“I lose my temper, but it’s all over in a minute,” said the student. “So is the hydrogen bomb,” I replied. “But think of the damage it produces!” – George Sweeting

Yesterday I was on a mission to the land of Wal-Mart in search of two black rugs. I made my way inside and found the rug aisle. I scanned each shelf up and down, found two black rugs, and made my way to the check out. I did not think this quick jaunt to Wal-Mart was going to take long, until I came to the checkouts. First, half of the 30 available checkouts were closed, leaving the others with lines stretching back to the candy aisle! I decided to try the “20 items or less” lane, assuming the wait would be minimal. To my dismay, the guy in front of me must have overlooked the “20 items or less” sign and had his cart filled. I walked to the end of the line and waited…and waited…and waited. 15 extensive minutes of frustration later, I paid for my items and left.

“90% of the time we become angry because we are selfish and impatient.” Anger is a powerful emotion that can be detrimental to our attitude, personality, friends, family, and our personal relationships. This destructive reaction sometimes boils under our skin until we can hold the thoughts in no longer. Individuals usually keep their frustration behind closed doors when they are in public, at work, or out with friends.  These closed doors tend to open when people are at home with family or a spouse, allowing their true character to shine through. What does your true character look like? Would you allow the same emotions you display toward your family and spouse to be present at the office or out with friends? While shopping at Wal-Mart, even though I had to wait in line for just 15 short minutes, I let my emotions take the best of me. I knew I had places to go and needed to leave. I expected my trip that day to be quick, but I let something as simple as waiting in line make me frustrated.

Our time on earth is too valuable to let simple things such as waiting in line, traffic, wants, etc. make us angry. In the book, The Man in the Mirror, Patrick Morley lists 7 things that shouldn’t make us angry:

  1. Violation of Rights:  Invasion of our personal space. Psychologists tell us we consider an eighteen-inch zone in front of our face as private.
  2. Disappointment with Station in Life: People are often discouraged with what they have and where they are in accordance to their social status in life. “Many of us need to accept our lot in life as from the Lord, provided we have been faithful with our abilities.
  3. Blocked Goals: When blocked from achieving our set goals, people often become angered.
  4. Irritation: The small irritations such as lines at Wal-Mart or traffic that get the best of us.
  5. Feeling Misunderstood: “We often think people don’t understand us: our feelings, our attitudes, our abilities, and our potential. They probably don’t. But holding a “pity party” and becoming angry doesn’t help us resolve the misunderstanding.”
  6. Unrealistic Expectations: Be careful not to set unrealistically high expectations for your friends and family. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  7. Pathological/Psychological: Sometimes people are affected by anger due to illness or emotional disorder. For example, a child who was always abused by his father may grow up and also abuse his spouse, friends, and children. `

Morley states that these seven reasons for becoming angry are all related to selfishness and impatience. Anger is a negative emotion that can be controlled by everyone. Yes, I said everyone has the ability to control their anger! When something negative happens to us that causes selfish or impatient thoughts, turn that negative energy into something positive. “Positive thinking doesn’t do anything, but it does everything better than negative thinking will.” For example, when somebody asks you, “How are you doing today?” Do you respond with, “Fine” or “Good.” Think what would happen if you responded with, “So good I can hardly stand it!” or “If I was any better I would be twins!” Imagine the conversation you could start. Anger and frustration can negatively affect our lives in so many ways, but by changing that negative energy into positive emotion, you can always be so good you can hardly stand it!

In his book, Morley also lists four scriptural guidelines that guide us on how to respond to the temptations to sin in your anger:

  1. Keep Control. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11)
  2. Overlook Offenses. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11)
  3. Avoid Angry Men. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  4. Appease Anger. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

The only person who can cause your bubble to burst is you! How you respond to negative circumstances and people in your life determines the flexibility of your bubble. “Other people don’t create your spirit, they only reveal it.” –Dr. Henry Brandt. The next time somebody asks you, “How are you today?” try responding with, “So good I can hardly stand!”