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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Don’t Get Angry, Play the Game

Having the sun almost gone as soon as I get out of work, after one night of clock foolery, is one of the most upsetting psychology games played on me. I’m fine with the fact that our planet has an axial tilt that causes dark winters and light summers.

Learning to handle anger and injustice may be one of the most important and least understood life skills.

What’s not okay is the hubris some ancient group with a power trip had to allow farmers more time to milk cows or whatever it is for. Turns out we can thank the German Empire and the Kaiser for starting the fad in 1916.

Don’t Let Anger Win

As much as I despise daylight saving time and its totalitarian origins, it’s amazing how quickly I’ll adapt and forget it happened. Maybe I should hold onto my principled anger and bristle year round to be philosophically consistent. But, I won’t. I tried my hand at being an ideologue in my early 20’s; it didn’t turn out well. I just became fat and chronically unhappy.

It’s unfortunate that there are things in this world that we each respectively disagree with but are de facto reality. However, if you focus solely on what upsets you and is beyond your control, you are following the recipe for masochist stew. Every day will begin with the iron weight of your ideology hung around your neck, tugging you as you react to everything that does not jive.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a stand for what you believe in. But, when you’ve stood in one place so long you’ll find that most friends and opportunities pass you by. You become another sculpture surrounded by other moss-covered statues, contorted in gross shapes just like you.

Learning to handle anger and injustice may be one of the most important and least understood life skills. This lesson is exactly what Ben Kenobi was trying to teach Luke when he let Vader chop his ass in half.

Though, Kenobi probably knew that he was about to become a supreme ghost dude, which perhaps made his decision a bit easier.

Choose Your Battles 

You really aren’t as important as you’d like to think.

It’s hard for us to let go and choose our battles because there’s no reassurance of the outcome. We hate to think that something evil could be prevented if only we did a bit more. If only we voted a bit harder. If only we had recycled six more aluminum cans.

This “never enough” mindset seems to be a spreading sickness in my generation. It causes people to speak in ridiculous absolutes.

“I’ll never eat gluten!” some will say, others will call you a fascist if you’re not in favor of wealth redistribution.It’s getting to be a minefield that many of the wise have retreated from altogether to preserve their sanity.

Sticking to one side of a line in the sand is necessary at some points in life. You can’t navigate the uncertainty of nature by being squishy and indecisive. But realistically, those make-or-break moments happen maybe once a year. You really aren’t as important as you’d like to think.

The rest of the time, seek to learn. Refrain from bending every new concept to fit your chain of ideology. Get angry if you must, and we all must, but inspect it, don’t act on it. Often your anger is being used to play you like a chess piece.

Whether you’re the knight or pawn hardly matters.

Instead, change the rules of the game. Don’t look around to see what is acceptable or expected behavior. Don’t get mired in the immediacy of being an offended reactionary. There are people who get tedious pleasure out of making another squirm. Don’t play their game, you can’t win.

Play the long game. The one you are allowed to leave at any time with no regrets. The one you are allowed to change your opinions in and adapt to new circumstances.

It may sound like a fantasy, but what’s so bad about fantasies? After all, I am writing these words on a device that is absolute magic to someone 100 years ago.

Reprinted from Innocent Ideas.