I never get angry. Well, that's actually a lie. I do, but hardly ever. I can count the number of times I've raised my voice on one hand and recall all incidents.
Anger is a massive problem. Modern life, as well as being rubbish, is full of frustration and losing ones temper is, however uncomfortable we might be with the notion, quite normal.
"Really?" I hear you cry, dear reader.
Yes. There are very obvious links between behaviour and emotion. A negative surprise provokes anger in us: "I can't believe you just did that!"
Strange, that in a world so full of supposed order and expected events, we continue to be surprised. So why the surprise? Because we are, by and large, optimists. We don't arm ourselves with negative expectation, but positive.
Anger is not irrational. Reacting to a surprise is quite reasonable. But with a prepared mind, prepared for every nasty surprise we can imagine, the element of surprise is gone. The rational product of surprise is extreme emotion. A person walking into a surprise birthday party will scream. A person walking into a room full of butchered bodies will scream. Take surprise out of the equation and events are simply accepted as they happen.
We are too optimistic, too hopeful. We imagine everyone behind the wheel of a car will drive well. When they don't, we toot our horns, wave a fist or shout, "Wanker!" We imagine all writers understand the basics of spelling, punctuation, sentence construction and grammar. When they don't, we write vicious letters to The Times. We imagine all chefs know how to season food. When eating a poke of fish and chips and the fryer's been mean with the salt, we sigh, tut and go back to the chippy to demand more salt. We are optimists. A pessimist would expect to get carved up on the roads, to see sentences such as There going to get they're money if thier lucky. A pessimist would expect their fish supper to come without salt and vinegar - and thereby have nothing to get angry about. A pessimist isn't going to expect Superman to come and rescue the kitten stuck in a tree, isn't going to expect the trains will run on time, isn't going to expect the cheque's in the post.
When we get angry, there's an element of surprise, self-pity and injustice. Spelling mistakes, under-salted food and bad driving are neither unfair nor surprising. They are quite predictable. One who gets angry over such things simply has false expectations of the world.
Be more pessimistic!
Accept that we can very often do nothing about the things that do make us angry. Letting go of our inner control freak will do us no end of good. Meg learned this. Mary did not. Meg never pulls on the lead. She simply walks beside me. Mary, however, does pull. She cannot make the world conform to her wishes. In order to maximise happiness, Meg walks beside me, the lead is slack. She knows that in order to be happy, she has to follow a direction she doesn't want to take rather than going her own way and strangling herself on the lead. And of course, we humans are also kept on a lead, metaphorically speaking. Long enough to have some freedom but not long enough to allow us to do whatever we want. Pull against it and we, too, will end up strangled and still going where we don't want to go.
Of course, dogs don't have the power of reasoning. We do. We might not be able to change events, but we can change our attitude to them.
We might imagine we're free, but we're not. As a pessimist, I accept that. I don't get upset over it and don't get angry. And that's what makes me happy.
Do the right thing, my little maid. Expect your emails to go unanswered, expect to get food poisoning today and expect your employer to demote you. Don't get angry. Become a pessimist and be happy.