How to Let Go of Your Anger: Reviewing the Mistitled “How to Fight”

I’m a Christian but I understand that there is a lot of moral wisdom to be gained from nonChristian and non-religious books. I also often think that the Bible may be lacking sometimes in practical guidance. For instance, Jesus instructs us in Matthew 5:22, that even being angry at your brother is a sin. But he doesn’t tell us how to stop being angry. And the church doesn’t usually offer any advice beyond “call on the Holy Spirit to give you [patience, endurance, kindness].”

In Bible study, we are wrestling with the idea of God being our friend, while also being someone who was revered. The group agreed that “Sup, Bro” would be too casual to say to God. But they also agreed that getting angry at God was ok. But I think it’s got to be more reverential to ask “how are you” in vernacular than it is to express anger. Plus, though I realize that God isn’t a human, so we don’t really have to worry about God’s feelings, I think the act of getting angry, even when another person is not the victim, has damaging effects on us.

How to Fight by Thich Nhat Hanh has a really misleading name. It’s really about controlling your anger. Hanh shares my belief in the corrupting force of anger:

When you try to get anger out by hitting something like a pillow, it may seem harmless. But it’s not certain that you can release your anger by hitting the pillow, imagining it to be your enemy, the one who has made you suffer. You may be rehearsing your anger and making it stronger instead of releasing it. . . By rehearsing our anger we are creating a habit of being angry, which can be dangerous and destructive.

So Hanh is saying, the act of getting angry, even when there are no victims, is destructive to oneself. I think we know this instinctively to be true. My favorite passage is called “Killing Anger”:

…he cursed the Buddha to his face. The Buddha only smiled. The cousin became even more incensed and asked, “Why don’t you respond?” The Buddha replied, “If someone refuses a gift, it must be taken back by the one who offered it.” Angry words and actions hurt oneself first and hurt oneself most of all.

This passage reminded me that, many times, you have complete choice in how to respond to people. (It’s also helpful to think of in terms of gifts this holiday season. If someone gives you a malicious gift, you can just give it back. You don’t have to accept everything that is given to you). They may bait you, they may come at you with anger, but you don’t have to return the gift. They can take the anger home with them. You don’t have to take the anger home with you.

It’s funny that when you start reading books, they all start to relate to one another. The Longevity Plan , which I had discussed in another blog post, had also talked about the dangers of anger for the heart and breathing as a means to remove anger.

This book was really helpful to me for understanding my own anger. When I think of getting angry, I think of fighting. I don’t stop to think, did I misunderstand what the other person said or did? Do I need to fight back? If I started fighting, what would “winning” look like?

But when you’re angry and the other person is angry, you feel like you’re the only one suffering but the fact is, you’re both suffering. Hanh compares fighting in this scenario to running after the arsonist when your house is still on fire. By settling the anger within ourselves, we stop both sides from suffering, and we train ourselves not to become angry. This is the only way to truly put out the fire and prevent more fires from spreading.

What are your techniques for defusing anger?

Image via Giphy.

 

How to Live to be A Vibrant Centenarian: Lessons from “The Longevity Plan”

The Longevity Plan by Dr. John Day chronicles an American doctor’s journey to a bucolic Chinese village that has one of the highest rates of centenarians in the world (yes, Chinese. Everyone keeps correcting me to say, don’t you mean Okinawa? Nope. China! people). Not only are there plenty of centenarians, but the centenarians are in great health.

The tips described in the book aren’t really earth shattering, but it’s good to be reminded of them and sometimes, a certain way of describing the problem can finally spur action.

1. Eat good food

Continue reading How to Live to be A Vibrant Centenarian: Lessons from “The Longevity Plan”

On Treating Yo’Self: How to Splurge Without Guilt


EW.com

I had lunch at Popeye’s – 3 piece platter with 2 sides and a biscuit. I had one of those sugarbomb Starbucks Holiday drinks the other day. I also ate a cinnamon bun. I’ve been known to eat whole huge desserts without sharing. I’ve never counted calories and I hate dieting.

I hate salads.

Judging from what I just wrote, it would seem that I’m overweight and pretty gross. Well, maybe the latter but not the former.

How do I do this? Well, what I’ve listed above are all aberrations to my diet. 90% of my meals are home cooked. I limit my intake of caffeine, snacks, processed and deep fried foods. I also have a very calorie-restricted diet. So when I eat my decadent meal, it’s really an outlier to my normal lifestyle.

I look the way I do because of my normal lifestyle – not because of my outlier.

I think most people in America eat some sort of quasi-healthy dish most of the time and then they splurge. A quasi-healthy dish is like a store-bought salad, but as the Internet is quick to point out, restaurant salads aren’t necessarily healthy. So they feel all of the restriction but get none of the benefits. If they splurge, and the button pops off their pants, maybe the splurge was the tipping point, but it’s the everyday lifestyle that got them to the tipping point all along.

So people may see me eating unhealthily in one instance and think, “she must have really good genes. There’s no way I could do that.” But they’re seeing a snapshot. They have no idea what the whole story is.

It’s the same with spending money.

Continue reading On Treating Yo’Self: How to Splurge Without Guilt

The Three Items You Need to Add to Your To-Do List

Ugh, you must be thinking, three MORE things I need to do in a day? It’s hard enough finding time to complete the things that are already on your list. Why did you even click on this link?

Because you’re a masochist. That’s why. Anyone who has a to-do list is.

And I promise, I wanted this to be “The Only 3 Things You Need on your To-do List” but I know that you need to pick up your dry cleaning, fill out that registration form and order more toilet paper. Those are all important and worthy things to put on a to-do list and I don’t want you to run out of toilet paper. In fact, go ahead and pause from reading this post while you order more toilet paper. I’ll wait.

Ok. Ready? Fill in the following blanks and then add them to your to-do list:

Continue reading The Three Items You Need to Add to Your To-Do List

Everything You Have, You Once Really Wanted

The Christian God is described as both a loving father but also to be revered. Someone in my bible study stated that she couldn’t wrap her mind around this idea. The people who seemed to think it obvious gave their examples – but both were examples of dealing with powerful people who weren’t close enough to be thought of as a father or of dealing with a loving father who happened to be powerful. But even if my father were the President, I would still treat him like my father. He wouldn’t suddenly turn on me and demand a certain level of respectful clothing and demeanor.

I’ve been reading Esther Perel’s book “Mating in Captivity” and the dichotomy we have in our relationships between stability/comfort and excitement/desire. You can’t have both.

Continue reading Everything You Have, You Once Really Wanted

The Ability to Change

It always amazes me when people change. In a different crowd, I would probably complain about people’s addictions to drugs or sex or alcohol. But in my circles, too often I encounter people who complain and complain about how annoyed they get with people on Facebook. I tell them, you could just stop reading Facebook. They feign consideration of my idea and then go back to complaining about their heated arguments on Facebook.

My mom told me the other day, if my dad would just stop pestering her, then she could get her Bible study homework done. And she went on a diatribe about her life and the interruptions and the lack of support. It was really weird to me. My brother tried to get my mom to listen to a podcast about stopping procrastinating once and we laughed a bit because my mom does not procrastinate. She gets things done. If someone should be able to change, it should be her. If someone won’t tolerate excuses, it’s her. So it’s weird to hear her…excuses.

I’ve been lucky in not starting vices. I don’t do much social media – I instagram once a week. Never smoked. With the exception of law school loans, never been in debt. Not a big drinker. Can’t stand too much caffeine. No drugs. Never been overweight.

So it seems that I’m not in a place where a drastic change makes sense. And I wonder, even if I were, if I’d be able to. If I started taking drugs, would I have the strength to quit? I don’t think so. People who lose a ton of weight, quit smoking, quit drinking, pay back big loans – people who drastically change their lives for the better –
those people are superheroes.
If you’re someone who’s done one of those things, I think you’re a superhero. For what it’s worth. Probably isn’t worth much

Of course, when I was younger I tried a lot of new things. I got a pixie cut. I moved to China. I was a vegetarian for a year.

Those were fun things. Change seems to become more difficult when we’re adults. I think there may be more pressure to settle down and be set in your ways. There seem to be more advice columns telling us that people can’t change. Maybe we all just lose our optimism. We’ve resigned ourselves to this way of living.

But I’ve met people who’ve turned it all around. People who’ve gone from fat to jacked. People who’ve gone to AA. And because I’m a lawyer, I know a ton of people who have switched careers. And they give me hope. If you can change, then maybe I can change. Maybe people can change. Maybe there’s hope for all of us yet.

Have you ever made a big change in your life? Are you my superhero?

Cultivating Abundance Part 3: Clearing the Chaff

So now you’ve decided to feel abundant, you have the right mindset, but you still have all this STUFF and nothing to wear.

I’ve heard the criticisms over Marie Kondo and minimalism- that these concepts are only for the rich. While it’s true to some extent that most people can’t live on very little without some degree of privilege, it’s a straw man. Neither one of these clutter gurus say you have to live on very little. It’s more that you should get rid of whatever is unnecessary and whatever is actively bad for you.

So I had a letterman jacket in high school, but to my great shame, I never lettered in anything. I never wore it because it looked odd without the letter. It was very expensive and it represented to me all the failures of my high school life. It’s not like I could ever wear the jacket even if I had lettered. Who wears a letterman jacket outside of high school? And I couldn’t sell it because it had my name embroidered on it. And I kept the jacket in my closet, where I would look at it everyday and feel the shame. (It’s kinda funny how stupid your high school problems seem when you’re older but then again, the shame and fear are still very real.) I could hear the voices that said “you’re not good enough” every time I saw this jacket.

So one day, I just threw it away. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders and mind.

Part of me thought that having things that made me feel shameful were good for me. Maybe it would remind me of when I didn’t work hard enough and make me work harder in the future. But all it did was cast a shadow on my day, every day. It just sucked my energy and provided nothing good. It was better gone. I realize that now.

And I guess you could say, well you had a jacket so you could get rid of that jacket. What if that’s your only jacket? Well, I guess if you had very strong negative feelings towards your only jacket, you could try swapping it with someone else for their jacket. Or put money in a fund to get rid of this jacket. Or worse to worse, try to change your relationship with your jacket. And I realize that sounds pretty stupid to have a relationship with your products, but it makes it much easier to change the relationship because the jacket can’t talk back.

Or you could still just throw it out. If you cannot stand the jacket, it might be worth it to be cold. You have to weigh the options there but hate is a strong word.

Marie Kondo’s tagline is everything in your house should “spark joy.” To me, I’ve turned her tagline around.

If it sparks joy, or is useful, then keep it.
If it sparks hurt or fear, and is not very useful then get rid of it.

So what does this all have to do with abundance? Well, I’ve been most successful at decluttering my closet. I have all my work clothes in one closet. When I wear something, I move it from one side of the closet to the other side. So how do I get dressed in the morning?

I pick something at random from the side of the closet that hasn’t been worn.

I don’t worry about it being something I hate, something that doesn’t fit, something that needs to be mended. I got rid of that stuff or I had it fixed. Though my closet has far fewer clothes, every thing I have is a winner.

It seems that even when we have a lot of something, we can feel like there isn’t enough. We have too many bad things clogging up our perception of what good things we have. If I had three times as many clothes, I might not have anything to wear because I would have to go through all these clothes to find something I like. If I had all these toxic friends, it might make it hard for me to realize who’s a good one. If I have all this clutter, I might not be able to find the precious things.

So I guess my advice on abundance is this: you have to choose it, you have to reframe your mindset to focus on gratitude and only bringing good stuff in, and you make sure to get rid of anything bad that would rob you of your abundance.

What things can you get rid of to make your life feel more abundant?

How to Cultivate Abundance, Part 2 – creating a mindset

The book, The Secret was a best-selling self-help book based on the ‘law of attraction,’ which claims that thoughts can change the world directly.

So yes, to the extent that The Secret causes you to believe that if you imagine wining the lottery, you may actually win the lottery, The Secret, is total crap. Still, research and some common sense consistently show that your thoughts are incredibly powerful in changing your life.

Harvard research shows that, in certain instances, just thinking about doing something can give nearly the same benefits as doing the activity. And it should come as common sense that if you enter an interview thinking you’ll do great and that the interviewer wants you to succeed, that you’ll likely do better than if you think you’ll bomb the interview and that HR is out to get you.

In my previous post, I already discussed how the feeling of abundance is a choice. But what happens after you decide that you want to feel abundant? How do you actually get the feeling?

The nuts and bolts of feeling abundant even when you have to live frugally is to reframe how you view your life.


Thought Pattern 1: You focus on what you have.

When I think of abundance, I think of a bowl full of cherries, because I read an article about abundance that had a picture of a bowl of cherries. When you think of abundance, it’s probably about health, social connections, money and peace. And I hope you have all or a mix of those things. But even if you lack in some areas, it helps to focus on what you do have. Think about what blessings you have. Think about if you have shelter, food, a job. Think about your friends, your family, people who’ve been nice to you throughout your life.

I watched a documentary recently, Kindness is Contagious, and throughout the movie, people would describe a time when someone was kind to them. Some were truly amazing and miraculous and some were silly. But if we all thought about our lives, we could come up with a few anecdotes about people who were nice to us. Be grateful and focus on these things. It’s hard not to feel abundance when you frame your life as one filled with amazing blessings.


Thought Pattern 2: Reframe frugality as curation.

Too often, frugality is framed as denial. You can’t get a new pair of shoes because you don’t have the funds.

Well what if you thought of yourself, instead of a miserable frugal person, as a fancy museum curator. Pretend you work for the Louvre and there are no shortage of painters/shoes who want your attention. But you don’t have nearly enough space for all of those vying and you can only take the very best. You want to be right so you can wait to take your time until you have the right funds. It’s not that you’re broke, it’s that you’re picky.

Imagine you meet a guy with 7 Hyundais and another one with a Tesla. 7 Hyundais cost more than a Tesla. But do you think Hyundai guy is rich? No you think he’s weird. Why would one person own so many cars. This guy hasn’t properly curated his life. You don’t want to be like that. It’s quite a privilege to enter your home so you make sure everything is finely chosen.

Every day, you make the choice to live feeling deprived or feeling abundant. And though I don’t believe in The Secret, I believe that feeling abundant will lead to abundance, even if only in your head. But maybe that’s enough.

What do you think about creating an abudnance mindset?

The Secret to Getting Up Early

I come from an early morning family. Sleeping in on a weekend meant waking at 7am. On a typical weekday, I had to leave the house at 6:05am to get to school but I loved sleep so much that I slept until about 5:55 and spent every morning running down the driveway.

Surprisingly, it turns out that I’m a morning person. I can lay in bed languidly killing time, and when I finally look at my watch, sometimes it still says 5:40.

Though I find WAKING pretty easy, it makes no difference for productivity if you don’t actually get out of bed. I can see 5:40 on my watch and then stay in bed until 7:30. This is where I find the most difficulty. Sleep is wonderful. It’s hard to think of a reason to leave the beauty of sleep for what lies ahead of me in the day. I find, unsurprisingly, when my sleep life is better than my waking life, that I have a lot of trouble getting out of bed.

Continue reading The Secret to Getting Up Early

Why Everyone Should Learn to Cook

I have such beginner’s luck with cooking and baking. The first time I cook or bake something, it comes out pretty well. So I get cocky and the next time I don’t check the recipe as well and it turns out much worse.

I baked some bread tonight. I used the wrong oven temperature. I put the lid on at the wrong time. I used a different kind of flour and didn’t adjust the recipe. It came out flat and weird.

But I was kinda excited about this bread. I mean it’s a Monday and I failed at something. But I’m safe. I’m in the safety of my own home. No one knows except me (and now all of you). I’ve learned several lessons for the future. And it’s fun and creative. When else do we get to try something new, fail, learn and feel ok about it?

It makes me sad when people don’t try to learn how to cook because they think it’s hard. Learning to cook can be hard. But learning everything can be hard. The difference with cooking as opposed to many other hobbies is that you lose so little when you fail at cooking. I mean, I lost 3 cups of flour, a pinch of yeast and salt and some water. And I got to experiment. I got to try to do something. I got to be creative. And I get to fail and try again. And I get to do it again tomorrow.