Don’t Be Mad at Good People

You’re a patient person. You don’t get road rage. You don’t snap at your employees. You accept apologies when offered. You treat strangers well. Because these are the rules of polite society. Because this is the secret to success in business and life.

Wonderful. But when you do lose your temper, who does it inevitably seem to be with? Your family. It’s so strange. We neglect to confront the jerk on the street, but god forbid your son leaves his shoes out! You’ve asked your assistant a thousand times to do something, but you’ll get short with your wife because she couldn’t hear you over the noise in the other room.

It feels like a paradox, but really this is a problem of proximity. Precisely because they’re closest to you, you have more opportunities to get upset with them than anyone else. And oddly, you hold onto this anger… because you can. Because they put up with it

It’s a sad, twisted state of affairs. The people who are all bad, but far away, are rarely fixtures for our rage. But the people who are mostly good—who on the whole have helped and loved us many times more than they’ve hurt us—are the recipients of our tempers and our anger. 

“Let’s not be angry at good people,” Seneca writes in On Anger. Today, when you find yourself getting upset at someone you love, remind yourself that their positive traits far outweigh whatever is bothering you in the moment. Just the fact that we can get mad at someone—and the fact that they love us enough to put up with it or because they’re kids and they have to live with us—is not a reason to indulge ourselves. We should try not to get upset with anyone, but if we are going to get mad—let’s make sure ours is a target of offense not of opportunity.

P.S. This was originally sent on January 21, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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