Monday, August 21, 2006

Anger and Compassion

While on vacation this past week, I was able to catch up on some reading of MY choice (vs. my professor's choice). One book that I chose to read was Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had heard about Thich Nhat Hanh during my transpersonal psychology course this past spring and was interested in learning more about him through his writing. While reading this book, I ended up learning much about myself as well.

Here are some of the things that I learned by reading this book:

  • We need to show our love by expressing anger in a constructive way. Anger is natural but we need to learn to water the seeds of compassion verses the seeds of anger, even though both seeds are present within us. When we are able to be compassionate, and love ourselves, we are able to love others.
  • We need to practice being compassionate for it to become second nature. We need to know the signs of our anger seeds being watered so that we realize what is going on.
  • Being able to tell a loved one that we are angry shows that we can trust them. However, we need to be able to express that anger in a way that will not cause more suffering to the other person.
  • We are a part of our parents as we are born of them. When we are angry, they are angry. We need to be compassionate to them and they will be compassionate back.
  • To get you feeling out in the open when you are having trouble, write a letter. Write it with compassion and a calm voice. Make sure to acknowledge that you may have misconceptions and that you would like to work them out with the other person.

I liked this book. It made me think about how to deal with my anger and to be able to acknowledge it without feeding it more. I would highly recommending it as a must read.


SilverThorn said...

If one is about to lose their cool, step back, take a breath or two, count to 5 or 10, and calm down.

Sojourner said...

It is good to step back and give yourself a moment to look at the situation. Hopefully, you will get a better idea of what is going on and you will be able to handle in a manner that is more condusive to your happiness.

Mike said...

Thich Nhat Hanh is a great author. I love his book Peace is Every Step. Thanks for posting the quotes. He has so much that is quote-worthy in his work, it's great to be reminded of it.

Autumn said...

This sounds like a good book. I think it might be telling us to pick our battles wisely.
By the way, welcome back. I enjoyed your guest blogs, but it is good to see you here again

Bernulf said...

I found the quote equating revelation of anger and trust to be quite interesting. I also think that fostering greater compassion is a good idea...but constructive rage is something I also believe in. I guess you could say that I endeavor to water my seeds evenly :)

Sojourner said...

Mike - Those weren't quotes - they were just my take on what he had to say. I tend to take notes when I read. This is what I had written down in my "Books" notebook.

Autumn - It is more like he was giving people the tools to deal with the "battles" in a better manner.

Thanks for the welcome back! I've enjoyed my week off, but it is good to be back. :)

Sojourner said...

Bjorn - there are some psychologists that say that it is good to vent your rage, but there are many studies that have been done that show that when you vent (through yelling, hitting, etc), that is the method that you will use automatically, as it has been practiced.

:) (about the seeds.)

Mike said...

Sojourner - great notes then! They actually sound a lot like his writing. :)

Bjorn - interesting views of "constructive rage." Way to not "play favorites" with your seeds! :)

Sojourner, those studies you mention, that is exactly how Buddhist karma works - things you do become habits. Hence anger responses will only breed more anger responses according to Buddhist thought.

Bernulf said...

I think that rage can be a constructive response - it doesn't have to be yelling, or even hitting. I use it as a motivation - when enraged at normal levels, I decide what I need to do to solve the rage and the situation that caused it - then I channel the energy into accomplishing just that.

What I apply the 'compassion seed' toward is pushing my rage threshold. Essentially, I try to think of compassion as a proactive way to keep my rage response from being triggered in the first place.

Mike - it's hard for me to play favorites with my seeds :) My two chief religious influences are Odin and Njord. Odin's name itself means 'fury' - and Njord is a dedicated lover of peace.

Grian said...

Thich Nhat Hanh is amazing. I have two of his books and they changed the way I think about a lot of things. No Death, No Fear is my personal favorite so far.