Check Your Axe Handle
“Expressing anger is a form of public littering,” said Willard Gaylin, and I agree. I would add, so is private littering as well. Homes as beautiful as any in Better Homes and Gardens can be ugly trash dumps due to the angry outbursts of those who live in them. Offices, too, can be garbage dumps of the silent litter of unspoken hostility between workers and the angry outbursts of bosses who easily fly off the handle.
“Flying off the handle,” as a metaphor for losing your temper, appeared in the mid-1800’s frontier days when pioneers whittled their own axe handles to insert into iron axe-heads from the East. When cutting down trees and chopping firewood these axe heads could fly off their crude, homemade handles and injure anyone nearby, including the axe user.
Anyone prone to “flying off the handle” and wishing to avoid littering with their eruptions of anger should take time to find the causes of their loss of self-control. The causes of outbursts of anger are many. For some they come from an inner hidden river of anger that can furiously blast up to the surface by some trivial event. For others, angry littering happens when others—or even life itself—fail to meet their expectations. Stop littering by changing your unrealistic expectations, likes and strong dislikes, into relaxed laid-back preferences.
Another way is to practice not flying off the handle before you typically would. Do this by imagining filming a movie of yourself remaining calm whenever tools, machines and technology fail to work properly. Or practice with making another movie of yourself (who dislikes waiting!) peacefully enduring a long wait for service in a store or in a doctor’s office. Practice, practice…until your composure remains peaceful and calm when typically you would lose your head—or the axe’s.
Don’t litter, even in private, and you will enjoy a healthier and happier life.