“Pittacus after being wronged by a certain person and having the power of punishing him let him go, saying, ‘Forgiveness is better than revenge.'” – Epictetus
Pittacus was one of the seven sages of Greece, a general and ruler of Mytilene. Rumor has it that when his son Tyrrhaeus was murdered the murderer was brought before Pittacus who forgave him and made the statement above.
Anger is a common emotion, and it comes to most of us easily. If we simply think about a few of the things that make us angry, we will find ourselves becoming angry. Heart beat increases, we flush, blood pressure rises and our reflexes become very reactive. Anger prepares us for physical violence.
Anger is also very difficult to control. Anger can make us say or do things we later wish we hadn’t done. Anger can ruin relationships. Anger can cost us jobs. Anger can poison our lives.
Anger can also lead to the same rushes of adrenaline that thrill seekers often find in extreme sports or activities. It’s probably not that anger itself is addictive as much as we learn to love the rush that anger brings. Left unchecked, anger can become a very powerful bad habit. A habit that can really harm us.
Forgiveness on the other hand is difficult. Forgiveness requires us to put aside our feelings, usually anger, and let something go. And it usually becomes the best option when our emotions are running at their strongest.This is why having emotional discipline is a required skill set for living well. We need to have the ability to detach from our emotional response to things and recognize what the most appropriate response to any situation actually is. Rarely, but sometimes, it will be anger. Sometimes anger is required to convey the seriousness of a situation. More often, anger is more than unnecessary. Mostly, anger is the wrong move and the biggest victim of anger is almost always us.
Fortunately, life will give us many opportunities every single day to practice detaching from smaller situations, checking our anger and then practicing forgiveness. Even at the smallest levels we will find that the ultimate winner in forgiving people in situations that would typically make us angry, is going to be us.
Virtus Fortis Vocat