With a wry smirk and mischievous glint in his eyes, hubby used to say, “Don’t get mad — get even.” Some may be amused by that — me, not so much. Mom used to say, “Scratch your mad place,” meaning “get over it” whenever someone dramatically vented over real or imagined offenses or plain dumb luck.

Currently there is a climate of anger, hate, self aggrandizement and greed permeating our society. It’s a difficult time for many, and such emotions and attitudes add to our distress.

Who do you know that is right at the boiling point almost all of the time? Most of us have embraced justified anger, but that doesn’t mean that we should hold on to those hurts and let it fester. Nobody is happy and angry at the same time.

Mark Twain said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything to which it is poured.” Consider those words.

Anger literally robs us of joy and happiness, because every single minute we spend angry, we exchange a minute of peace — a poor bargain. Anger and happiness cannot coexist. It’s a foul thing.

This little anonymous tale makes good sense to me. Consider the lesson it contains.

“One day Buddha walked though a small village. Out of nowhere, a very rude and angry young man came up to him and started insulting him. ‘You have no right teaching others. You are stupid and are nothing but a fake,’ he screamed.

“The Buddha remained calm, cool and serene. He didn’t allow the insults to get to him. Instead, he spoke to the young man with a question. ‘Tell me. If you buy a gift for someone and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?’

“Surprised by the strange question, he said, ‘It would belong to me because I bought the gift.’

“Buddha smiled and agreed. ‘That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not allow myself to get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are the only who then becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

The antidote for anger is controlled calm. It invites peace. Practicing peace is always a choice. We make a conscience choice to become angry, and losing one’s temper costs us the spirit of peace and calm in our relationships.

Anger is like a poison to your soul. It does much more harm to the angry one than to the object of one’s disposition. It’s a very harmful characteristic to embrace.

Even after more than 56 years of marriage, we have kept our promise to one another to never go to bed angry. We may engage in pillow talk for half the night, but we resolve the issue before slumber overtakes us.

No one ever choked to death while admitting they were wrong. Swallow that pride and make amends by forgiving quickly and praying for the one who blamed you, whether justified or not.

Our marriage was rock solid, and our children were in their teens when a wise old friend counseled us to pray verbally for one another before going to bed each and every night. He added that we would see miracles unfold as we prayed together.

He was right. How can I stay mad at my husband when I hear him pray for me to feel peace, express his sorrow over hard feelings, including his part, and then without fail to express sincere gratitude for me? My heart has softened many times as his words chastise and humble me.

Being angry because things don’t go your way is a street to nowhere. We cannot feel a good spirit and be angry at the same time. For me, the former is much more satisfying.

To paraphrase a man of God, “Husband and wife should never raise their voices in the home — unless it is on fire.”

When angry, it is my duty to pray for love and charity, which “suffereth long.” Praying reduces the effects on my mind and body as I turn from my own hurt to feeling love for the one who vexed me, since we all share the same heavenly Father.

It is a dismal admission that we cannot control our tempers — leading us to become a victim of our own behavior and emotions, which easily can steer us into actions totally unfit for civilized humans.

We mustn’t allow ourselves to indulge in anger or rage. It reveals volumes about us. So when angry, simply scratch your mad place and carry on rather than deprive yourself of even one more minute of good cheer.

Life is short. Don’t spend it mad.

— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.

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