Londoners are, by nature, pretty angry. I know, I’ve been there. Just yesterday I shoved a woman on the tube with a backpack who wouldn’t move out the doorway. We’ve a lot to get mad about.
Which is why I possibly started one morning this week, shall we say, rather pissed off. I felt like work wasn’t taking me seriously. I was becoming disillusioned with what I was doing. Everything felt like an uphill struggle. I was tired. I was irritated. It felt like rather than relishing my work and living ly life I was going through the motions. My brain had been wired into a negative loop which it wasn’t able to break out from.
So it was that one morning I had the novel idea to write to my boss, a furious letter of all the things which were working against me in our team. I spared nothing, writing articulately but coming as close to a written rant as my nature and basic workplace decency would allow.
The novel part was, that I didn’t send it. A few mornings later it still lies, signed, sealed and unsent, in my documents folder.
Yet the cathartic nature of this letter and the mental release which it afforded I’m afraid mere words on the page can barely express. It was as though the anger and resentment had moved from a great, frothing mass in my head to merely a trace. A shadow. I meditated, trying to choose a guided meditation which would “re-code” my brain out of the negative funk in which it had somehow found itself. Somehow, as I went about my day, I resolved to let my attitude change. I would simply stand back and let the things I couldn’t alter drift by. I’m not going to pretend it was perfect, I wasn’t suddenly sitting on a lotus blossom chanting “om” and being at one with the butterflies, but something did change. Resentments I’d been feeling towards colleagues melted away, and things, for whatever reason, became easier. Ideas flowed, creativity flourished, and I re-discovered the love for my job I’d had 10 months ago when I first started. The power-struggle I felt like I’ been locked in evaporated and the knots of office-tension eased.
It’s strange, sometimes, to look around and wonder what dramas are steaming through the heads of people all around us, which we’ll never know. Even those close to us. I suddenly felt like I’d gone through an entire kaleidoscope of emotion without uttering a single syllable. Something which, if I’m honest, I don’t usually do. I need to voice my problems to even begin getting a handle on them. I think sometimes it;s a strain my friends bear with a necessary degree of equanimity.
But a part of me was proud that, with no outside help or input I’d somehow taken responsibility to alter my own attitudes. It struck me how everything we do, and however we interpret it in our individual ways, comes down to attitude. We can resent someone else or we can be happy for them. It may not be from our heart truly, but we can muster enough face to face it, I think. We can rail and scream at the injustices of our lives, of the breakups or silences or ignorances which make us want to take our fellow human being and flay them, or we can breathe deep and see, even in the most minute way, the positives in our situation.
I’m as skeptical of over-embellished words of philosophy as anyone else. I think some of the ancients tapped into a collective psyche of some sort in their writings, but I find a lot of modern literature on the subject to be air-headed and superfluous. It’s like a lot of what the Dalai Lama says – it’s pretty rhetoric and true in its own way, but hardly conducive to the practicalities of everyday life. Sir Dalai doesn’t have to take a crowded commute every morning to a stressful city job. But it was amazing to watch a change in attitude have a knock-on effect to other parts of my life. It was like turning the mirror back upon myself and seeing a new way. And, to say it truthfully, life is just so much more pleasant with a good attitude.
Anger may be a temporary relief, but really, it’s such hard work.