You’re driving home from work, traffic is a little heavy, but not too bad. Then someone cuts you off and makes you slam on the brakes. You honk at them, but they just flip you off and speed away.
That feeling you’re experiencing as they speed off, and probably lingers with you until you get home, is your Should conflicting with the world’s Is.
That is what anger is. You think things should be one way, and when they’re not, you get angry. Your child should clean his room, but has been playing video games all day. Your boss should recognize that you missed the deadline because she didn’t respond to your email. Other drivers should obey the rules of the road.
Anger can be petty, and anger can be righteous. Anger can be selfish, and anger can be justified.
But anger can also be instructive.
The next time you feel angry, ask yourself, “What was I expecting, and what upset my expectations?” If it doesn’t calm you down, it might at least give you a more clear understanding of what your Should is.
And once you know your Should, you can either start adjusting your expectations, or you can start changing the Is.