Book Recommendation – Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we get angry, we suffer. If you really understand that, you also will be able to understand that when the other person is angry, it means that she is suffering. When someone insults you or behaves violently towards you, you have to be intelligent enough to see that the person suffers from his own violence and anger. But we tend to forget. We think that we are the only one that suffers, and the other person is our oppressor. This is enough to make anger arise, and to strengthen our desire to punish. We want to punish the other person because we suffer. Then, we have anger in us; we have violence in us, just as they do. When we see that our suffering and anger are no different from their suffering and anger, we will behave more compassionately. So understanding the other is understanding yourself, and understanding yourself is understanding the other person. Everything must begin with you.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger

This is not something I will ever “finish” reading. It is, like Taming the Tiger Within , a work I will return to again and again when I need solace and quiet wisdom to guide my energies and soothe the chatter in my brain. Thich Nhat Hanh gently challenges us to engage in mindfulness in everything that we do. Only through mindfulness can we let go of the detritus that poisons our life- the noise and distraction of ambition, expectations, material possessions and technology- and embrace the peace of the present moment. I’ll spend the rest of my life working to open my heart and brain to mindfulness. I know mindfulness when I achieve it, and it’s bliss, but those fleeting seconds are too few and far between.

The anger part of Anger forms the outline of Hanh’s teachings. Anger is the mirror image of compassion and empathy. One’s anger is to be embraced, tended, respected and recognized, and through attention and mindfulness, the knots of bitterness unravel. Hanh provides tools for practice, examples for inspiration, and uses repetition that is as soothing as the chanted Oms that finish out a yoga practice.

I recommend this for anyone who has ever felt a moment of anger or self-doubt.

-Julie Christine

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