Tag Archives: mindfulness

Anger and Self Control

VolcanoAfter a recent experience in a place with abysmal customer service, I have found it healthy to re-evaluate my relationship with anger. Fortunately, I did not succumb to it, and many of the thoughts that flashed through my mind remained as fantasies, well behind the borders of imagination land. I was acutely aware throughout the whole episode how every thought I had as a response to somebody acting badly towards me was right and just. This in turn terrified me, because in these moments, life seems to become so clear, the required behavior so obvious, and there is a burning drive to act. The only problem is that anger induced responses are intimately linked to aggression; verbal, emotional, and physical, and even if you don’t express it immediately, these can manifest in passive aggressiveness or fostering a plan for vengeance.

Personally, I think these feelings are primitive survival instincts that do not have a place within contemporary standards of morality. There are very few circumstances where being aggressive against others is a permissible behavior. I would only defend physical aggression against others if you or your friends and family are being physically assaulted (or in the boxing ring, octagon, or on the mats). The obvious reason that aggression is never okay against others is because it can be seriously damaging and leave the victim forever changed with long lasting depression and misery.

I realize that there are degrees of aggression. Yelling at someone for cutting you off, making a sarcastic response, or even just refusing to talk to somebody are hardly in the same league as punching somebody in the face (although, in the times I’ve had people go behind my back, I would’ve preferred being punched in the face. Maybe there’s an important difference between honest aggression and cowardly aggression?) Still, if there’s one thing we know about aggression, is that it can quickly escalate. Remarks in passing when the other party leaves earshot or personal space can become viscerally incendiary if it turns into confrontation.

There are a number of philosophical directions you can take anger. We’re sometimes frustrated by the lack of action over particular issues, and anger leads one to act. Confrontation, although uncomfortable, can lead to closure, and despite the negativity, you at least know how the other party feels about you (honest aggression?); is this ‘healthier’ than angry remarks in passing with people you never see again? And finally, is it ever okay to defend one’s actions by stating that they were done out of anger?

What I have really taken away from my recent experience is that I don’t like feeling angry. If there’s anything I know about the world, it’s ridiculously complicated, and even the asshole that nearly sideswipes you, is somebody’s son/husband/father. If you’re experiencing a moment when the only conceivable right thing to do is to pick up a vase and smash it over somebody’s head, you are the one with the problem, and you are the one that has departed from reality. I wouldn’t mind betting that those who seem to strive on anger have become addicted to the sense of righteousness and power that comes with it. To somebody who suffers low esteem, these feelings could nourish them into a raging beast (bullied children gravitating towards careers of authority?)

During times of anger, especially in the absence of threat, it’s probably better to turn your attention on yourself, and do what is needed to come back down to earth. With all that is amazing in life, who has time to be angry? I’ll take blissful confusion any day.

Goodbye, Facebook – Addendum

As with many thoughts, another reason has become clear to me as to why I discontinued Facebook many weeks ago now.

Simply put, I feel like it was preventing change in my life. To constantly be confronted by news updates of everyone you have “friended” has the disorienting feeling of holding you in the past. I suppose this is mostly for the acquaintances that you met years ago, but noting what they’re doing now recreates memories you formed when you met them. There’s nothing wrong with this during moments of reminiscing or nostalgia, but as we know, Facebook has a habit of being “in your face” on a daily basis. I’m sure that Google + has got it right by allowing you to have sophisticated circles of those that fall on different parts of your value scale, but this is time and effort I also don’t wish to waste. Perhaps Facebook also gives you a wealth of control over your newsfeed, but again, with the rules that keep changing and the effort required, a pensive moment with a cup of coffee watching squirrels run about on the lawn is much more appealing.

This is really an extension of my previous post about the healthy need to forget. Forecasting where you’d like your life to head, is ironically another form of memory formation. In terms of cognitive resources, therefore, it is bad idea to drain them by repeatedly exposing yourself to people from your past, particularly if they’re not good friends or family. If you want to evolve on a personal level, don’t overload your brain with the mundane and trivial.

Creativity, in some ways, is the very essence of change. If you want things to be different, you have to create difference. It starts with creating ideas – ideas for hobbies, or ideas for life. With creation, we lead with the mind, and follow with the body (I suppose we can create without thinking, but without mindful thinking it’s hard to imagine assigning purpose to our own lives). Ideas help us to see skills (behavioral sets) that we need to strive towards our goals (our initial ideas). The repetition of those skills then become a part of our procedural memory (such as how we swing our golf clubs, cast our fishing rods, work our clay, or bake our cakes). Personal growth, in other words, requires a healthy cognitive bank. If we’re holding ourselves in the past, and spending too much time giving into our addiction to reading unimportant posts, we lose our creativity.

I know you can argue that social media can bolster creativity by sharing ideas, but I would wager that most of us aren’t being creative.

I’m done waxing philosophical, now. But for these reasons, I am happier that I no longer use Facebook.

-I-

Here’s my original post.

Goodbye, Facebook

It is with a heavy heart, but a free spirit, that I have decided to say “Goodbye!” to Facebook. I have enjoyed many of the advantages of using the behemoth webpage/social media system, such as sharing jokes and commentary with friends, engaging in fun/tedious web-debates with my nearest and dearest, and seeing entertaining posts and links that I would’ve never stumbled across otherwise.

Yet given these fun aspects of Facebook time, I always felt that it was never good for me, and I could never figure out why.

I am aware that there are now many social media experiments taking place, and the reason for this is that nobody ever really knew the implications of this kind of mass sharing. These websites were always destined to be “a hit” with the public (provided that they got in early, established their brand, and offered something fun and novel).

I personally feel like Facebook hijacked my brain. Accessing the program was always in my fingertips, even though the thought of logging-on hadn’t consciously entered my mind. When opening a new browser window, there are countless times I have caught myself typing ‘fa’ into the address line before I’ve even really thought about what I’m doing.

This started to bother me.

Facebook has become an integral part of my procedural memory – the same memory that has refined how you pick up a hot drink, or brush your teeth, is now facilitating my exposure to the program. And the worst part is that this has happened because I have done it so many times before, and my brain is simply helping me to repeat the past.

I also feel that using Facebook has affected the way that I read online articles. I am plagued by a terrible attention span, and I have often wondered if I would meet the criteria for adult ADHD. Reading is very often not only an act to be informed, but a means of self discipline. As it is not uncommon to want to share interesting things that you have read, or more likely to comment or joke about something in the news, the fact that you can instantly share and comment instantly interrupts the reading experience. My brain becomes conflicted – to comment on this interesting line, or finish reading the article first? If I do challenge the impulse, it will be there nagging me for the remaining paragraphs, like suppressing the need to pee while driving until you arrive at the next rest area. I like to read, and I like to understand what I read, and so Facebook needs to go.

It has also been widely acknowledged that for a healthy brain it is important to forget things. Now, obviously, it also very important to remember things, but there is an abundance of material that you have been exposed to since day one that can happily disintegrate and float around in the recesses of the mind. By re-exposing yourself to many of the people you have met throughout the course of your life, you are forcing your brain to build upon old memories and re-collections. Biologically, this can be very demanding. Perhaps even contribute to fatigue, and result in your inability to focus on arguably more important endeavors, such as current relationships and hobbies. I’m not convinced the brain has evolved to keep healthy tabs on somebody you might’ve known in your early school days, especially in the milieu of everyone you have met since.

These are the main reasons that I am done with the website. But, I also don’t like being told that my profile is only ‘67% Complete’ (Facebook, you’re just 33% too nosy), I don’t like agonizing over whether a comment I posted was appropriate, and I don’t like that I seem to have a mild dependence on friends and family validating my sense of humor and worldviews.

I was thinking that my departure from Facebook might only be for the time being, but after re-reading everything I’ve just written here, not a Damn chance.