How many things will annoy you today? Think about it. Go through your average day from waking to sleeping and add up all annoyances. Is it more than 20? 50? 100? How many things will anger you? Is it more than 10?
When we experience the emotion of anger (even annoyance) our bodies react to stress. Adrenaline is released, blood vessels constrict, the left hemisphere of our brains becomes excitable and certain functions of our limbic system are reduced. Anger reduces cognitive function in a palpable way and can takes many times longer to return to a state of calm than it took to leave the state of calm.
If this reaction is happening multiple times per hour, then we are essentially living in a permanent state of stress. We are using less of the most helpful aspects of our brains, and by comparison to someone who lives at peace, we live with a much lower consciousness, use less intelligence, and expose ourselves to greater heath risks.
This post will not be a “how to” on living in peace from a centered place. If you do not have a practice or a means to do this already, then such a tool will is not helpful to those who live unaware. Instead, I hope this post will help illuminate what is beyond our short fuse so we can become free from blaming everything around us that we think is wrong with the world.
Our life of stress is not caused from the outside in.
Solomon said; “money answers everything.” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). When I was in my twenties and early thirties I barely made a livable wage and I was more than $45,000 dollars in debt. I call this my angry phase of life. I earned the nickname: “Cold hearted bastard.” Now that I’m debt free and earn enough to be comfortable I can say that without a doubt, I am less anger at the world. Was this because life got easier? No. My responsibilities are far greater now than twenty years ago. It’s tempting to conclude that if you have enough money, the stress goes away, but the opposite is true, my anger produced a low consciousness that kept me just barely getting by.
Yes, earning money is inside out. I changed the framework and the opportunities to earn became visible. As you’ll see, we change our “lot” in life in via counter-intuitive ways.
Our bodies are always telling us something. Anger clamps down our soul just as it does our blood vessels and this elevates pressure and backfills the space where “shalom” (well-being in the whole of life) once dwelled.
It’s really hard to see, but aggravation is a form of deep seated pride or what Solomon calls vanity. Vanity, (the Hebrew word Hebel), is a mist or vapor or breath. It exists but there is no real substance to it. It’s an empty pursuit brought on by a mind that is convinced that we have much more power than we actually do.
The low-level barely-conscious mind, goes through life maximizing pleasure and minimize pain. When we function on this creaturely plane, we are myopic, self-focused people who interpret the world as “getting in our way.” Competition is born from this mist. Do you see the vanity now? Anger wreaks of pride. Can you see how this “vapor” is the low-level basis for so much of the worlds activity and output. We haven’t really evolved much. We go through life feeling distinct from everyone and everything and try and improve our lot at the expense of others. Solomon called this a striving after the wind.
Solomon climbed the competition (and consciousness) ladder all the way to the top. No human in history has ever achieved his wealth, nor his wisdom. At the highest level, there was nothing there. Only the stark reminder that his death would come as surely as everyone else’s. Why do you suppose the wealthy focus more on health than the poor? It’s NOT that health is a luxury item, its a by-product of consciousness. Nearly 70% of smokers come from poverty.
Solomon did find more gain in wisdom than folly. The answer wasn’t to quit and drop out of the race, but it wasn’t to stay in the race either. Wisdom frees us from binaries. Rather than living in reaction to all things (stress inducing lifestyle) we begin to truly live at the point of acceptance within all things. But how?
Solomon’s conclusions revealed that there is a time in life for everything under the sun. We are neither to avoid the displeasure of life any more than we are to try and permanently possess pleasure. There is a third thing that is higher up and further back.
Each thing comes not as distinctly good or bad, but complete and beautiful “as it is” within the context of all life. All things are by design and provide a rich experience of life. Solomon said: “God has made everything beautiful in its time, and it’s not something we will ever fully understand” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Dancing and mourning actually go together. Mourning is painful because we have experienced the joy of the dance. The dance is joyous because we have experienced the weight of mourning. The third thing is trusting that both are vital to our humanity. Both make us into more than a mere beast.
If we can attain this third thing, then our days will immediately change. The aggravator may just be the scourge of love that reminds us NOT to respond in a vain effort of wind grabbing. If we can accept the experience of our present moment, our anger exposes our proud assumption that we understand all the issues. In the moment of acceptance, suddenly everything belongs. Nothing is ever missing from each and every moment, but perfectly complete. This is to experience and trust the providence of God.
This perspective allows us to hold space for whatever may come and regardless of the circumstances, we now have the power to enjoy our life, because we can actually be in it.