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Anger is temporary madness, and the Stoics knew how to curb it

Massimo Pigliucci, professor of philosophy at City College, writes:

‘…[H]ere is my modern Stoic guide to anger management, inspired by Seneca’s advice:

– Engage in preemptive meditation: think about what situations trigger your anger, and decide ahead of time how to deal with them.

– Check anger as soon as you feel its symptoms. Don’t wait, or it will get out of control.

– Associate with serene people, as much as possible; avoid irritable or angry ones. Moods are infective.

– Play a musical instrument, or purposefully engage in whatever activity relaxes your mind. A relaxed mind does not get angry.

– Seek environments with pleasing, not irritating, colours. Manipulating external circumstances actually has an effect on our moods.

– Don’t engage in discussions when you are tired, you will be more prone to irritation, which can then escalate into anger.

– Don’t start discussions when you are thirsty or hungry, for the same reason.

-Deploy self-deprecating humour, our main weapon against the unpredictability of the Universe, and the predictable nastiness of some of our fellow human beings.

-Practise cognitive distancing – what Seneca calls ‘delaying’ your response – by going for a walk, or retire to the bathroom, anything that will allow you a breather from a tense situation.

– Change your body to change your mind: deliberately slow down your steps, lower the tone of your voice, impose on your body the demeanour of a calm person.

– Above all, be charitable toward others as a path to good living.

Seneca’s advice on anger has stood the test of time, and we would all do well to heed it. …’

Source: Aeon Ideas

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