Anger: Stress testing the system

It has been the most horrific start of the school year I have ever experienced in my 9 years with the DOE. It seems that all the incompetence and bureaucratic tedium has combined into a massive inefficient glob of sheer awfulness. The festering misery has spread into my commute. It’s usually bad for the first few months of school, but this year it is unacceptable.

Stress is compounded when we don’t have the time to do the things that make us feel healthy. Writing, working out, meditating, laminating sheets (it can be Zen) whatever it is you need to do.


In times of great stress we forget. We allow the stress to control our outcomes. I have been pouring salt and expecting it to make my wounds feel better.

It is true that we suffer more in imagination than in reality and we forget this when our nervous system is flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone. We are stuck in the loop of negative feedback. We hold onto the dissatisfaction, our jaw clenches, we hold our breathe and we yell at our steering wheel.

Anger yearns for validation, we want to confirm the injustice that has consumed us, we want to feel right for being angry. This is toxic because it perpetuates our own suffering, while simultaneously reaching out for outside validation.

These are the moments where you need to practice gratitude most. This is the time where fall back on practice.


You have to ask yourself what you can possibly do to fix it. If there is anything, do it! If not, stop flipping out of over it. If all you can do about a problem is get more upset about it, then you need to stop and reflect on something you should be grateful.

Reflect on the fact that it is the most remarkable time in human history to be alive. You would rather be poor today than a king from two centuries ago. Life is better now than ever.

We think that we can conquer all these hardships that life has to offer, from petty annoyances to the real problems that cause physical and emotional pain. We often confuse the two because they feel the same.

The goal is not to diminish, but to reduce. To be able to stop and catch yourself as opposed to involuntarily react to whatever fresh hell the world has currently dealt you.

It is called a practice because it is never complete. It is a repetitive process.

Matthew CriscuolaComment