By John Minard
I'm almost always a calm and collected person. Or at least I think I am. Yet on rare occasions, when I least expect it, some set of circumstances, emotions, or harsh words will override my calm capacity and spark a momentary surge of temper. 'Ever happen to you?
For instance, I remember a business meeting where I once felt that one individual was chopping down every idea I suggested - often before I'd finished explaining it. After a few rounds of interruptions, I retorted: "Well, if you'd let me complete an idea, it might not be as bad as you think." The tone of my remark put a hush on the meeting. Embarrassed by my response, I resolved to stay quite during the rest of the meeting. The other person didn't say much either. Actually I felt really bad about barking at that person, who probably didn't even realize they were cutting me off.
A day or two later I got up the courage to give this person a call. We both apologized and agreed that temper had gotten the best of us. Our moment of mutual contrition became a quiet pact of mutual respect. In subsequent meetings we became better listeners, especially to each other, and often supportive of each other's ideas.
Over the years I've learned a lot about tempering, and even eliminating temper or anger in my thoughts and words. It can be done! One of my favorite spirituality writers Mary Baker Eddy states this point simply: "The good in human affection must have ascendancy over the evil, or happiness will never be won. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)"
Over the years, I think I've gained much greater control over temper and anger by cultivating the good in my human affection so it can have ascendancy over any tendency to fight evil with evil. It's like putting on a hate-proof armor when I strive to see the innate goodness in myself and others - all others. I like to think of unselfish goodness as the normal disposition of all of God's children. Striving to view others this way has, many times, prevented me from being irked by harsh words, or even malicious acts. Because siding with unconditional goodness overrides the human nature to react.
This type of approach is summed up by the profound truth, known as the Golden Rule, expressed in many beliefs and moral traditions: "Do undo others, as you would have them do unto you." Following this promotes the ascendancy of goodness. It quells temper, cools the hot buttons of hatred or revenge, and brings dominion and peace to our lives.
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