When we develop a sense of concern for others’ well-being then the very basis of anger is no longer there. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote is about a way to quell anger within yourself. When you are angry at someone, how concerned are you about their well-being? Do you care if they are stresses or comfortable? Do you care if they are happy or sad? In some cases, if you are angry enough, you might eve wish they were particularly stressed or sad, or even worse, right?
However, if your focus is on their well-being, what was anger rapidly changes form. Depending on the situation and the relationship, it can easily become aggravation, irritation, concern, or disappointment. Think about that for a little bit, and see if you can find an example in your life.
The more concern you have for a person, or a people, the harder it is to remain angry. Concern and anger are opposites, and where one is, the other cannot be. Many people use anger to drive out concern. This quote urges us to do the opposite, and use concern to drive out anger.
Why is concern important?
At TheFreeDictionary.com, concern is defined as “To be of interest or importance to.” Can you see how that might make it hard to truly be angry and concerned at the same time? As your concern overtakes anger, what is left is probably better called aggravation, irritation, concern, or disappointment.
At least it works that way for me. Being concerned starts by taking the sting out of the act that provoked the anger in the first place. As you start to ask questions, try to figure out what was going on in their life to have caused them to treat you that way, the anger recedes even more.
By the time you are done digging into what happened, and talked to them about it, your concern has most likely pushed anger completely to the side. You might even feel pity, sympathy, remorse or even regret for your anger. But in nearly every case, there is no anger in the presence of true concern.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Let’s start with a hypothetical case. What if a someone lied to you? At first you may be angry. However, if they were a friend, and you cared for them and their well-being, you might find your concern and curiosity start to replace you anger.
After the hurt fades a little, that you are concerned about how they are doing, and what was going through their mind. What must it have been like, to be in a position where they thought that lying to you was their best course of action?
Has this ever happened to you? Did you, as you read the paragraph, feel a little hurt and even a bit angry when I said they lied to you? And how did you feel when I pointed out that there must be something wrong if they thought their best option was to lie to you. For me, the anger changed to concern, how about you? Did you feel a change as well?
By being concerned, you have put aside your feelings in favor of finding out what is wrong with the other person. We are far more likely to do it with friends than with acquaintances, and far less likely to do so with those we don’t like.
I believe we should stretch ourselves and try to show concern as often as possible, and anger as rarely as possible. In this manner, we become friends to more people, and antagonists to fewer people. There is, of course, no guarantee that they will appreciate the gesture, but I believe we should do these things because of who we are, not to impress others.
This will be more challenging with some people, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it were always easy, right? The more challenging the situation, the greater our chance for growth, so I look forward to the challenge. Do you embrace challenges, or do you prefer to take the easy route?
In my opinion, being concerned about the well-being of others is a fundamental life skill, and one at which we should all try to get better. Not that we’ll ever master it, but the harder we try, the closer I believe we can get. Try it, I think you’ll like how it makes you feel. I know I like how it makes me feel!
Just remember, your emotional state is a choice, and you will get more of what you chose to feel. If you focus on your anger, you will get more anger. If you focus on your concern for others, you will get more of that, and so much less anger.