Do you find it difficult to control your anger, or do you get angry too frequently? Do you tend to lose your temper at the slightest annoyance? Are you too irritable or impulsive?
Today I will share ten tips to become a calmer person regardless of what happens to you. Some are related to your lifestyle, while others come from your mindset. In short, the ten tips are:
- Understanding anger is often a learned behavior
- Being more mindful and doing things slowly
- Practicing meditation on a regular basis
- Being more flexible
- Knowing your triggers so you can avoid them
- Accepting that not everyone will understand you
- Thinking before you act
- Surrounding yourself with calm people
- Practicing gratitude
- Improving your sleep quality
1. Understand anger is a learned behavior
Though some studies have suggested that anger may be genetic, or inherited, what we experienced as we grew up plays a huge role in how we react to situations.
While being short tempered may be in your genes, anger is usually a learned behavior. If you lose your temper too often, that’s probably because you have seen others do the same, whether you are aware of it or not.
The good news is that you can learn to react to triggers differently, and the more you do it, the more your attitude will change. It may be difficult at first, but once you learn to keep your cool — no matter what happens to you — it will become spontaneous. The more you practice, the easier it will be.
Also: don’t assume that you have to shout or react in any way when someone or something triggers you. Though in some cases expressing your anger may be the only option, it’s usually a good idea to maintain a calm attitude, both for you and those around you.
2. Do things slowly
Do you try to do everything as quickly as possible? In today’s world, we often feel that we never have enough time, so we tend to do things faster, however it’s not necessarily the best approach.
Besides leading to more mistakes and less productivity, the habit of doing things too quickly also makes it more likely to experience anger, stress, and anxiety.
Regardless of your current lifestyle, you can learn to do things slowly, and be more mindful. Take your time; don’t expect everything to be super fast; be okay with the fact that occasionally we have to “waste time” waiting for someone or something.
It’s true that our time is precious. But at the same time, we can’t be too impulsive. The more we rush, the more stressed out we will be, so it will be harder to enjoy life. Also, avoid multitasking, and focus on quality rather than quantity. Even the most efficient person in the world only has 24 hours in a day.
3. Practice meditation
Immediately after a short meditation session, you will naturally feel calmer and more centered. However the true benefits of meditation occur when you practice it consistently, ideally every day.
Many studies have shown that those who meditate on a regular basis will have a stronger immune system, improve their sleep quality, become more aware of their thoughts, and experience less stress and anxiety.
According to science, if you meditate for at least two months, your brain will literally change: the areas of your brain that control memory and focus will grow, and become stronger.
As I mentioned, a single session will be enough to notice physical and mental benefits. However if you make meditation a long term habit, you will notice positive, significant changes in your personality, your attitude, and your ability to control your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
4. Be flexible
Are you a control freak? Do you lose your temper when something doesn’t go as planned? Do you fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking too often?
Whether we like it or not, life is unpredictable. Some things we can control; others, we can’t, no matter how hard we try. If you want to be a calmer person, it’s essential that you accept the uncertainty of life, and stop being too strict.
It’s important to have specific goals, but it’s equally important to be flexible. So learn to adapt, and don’t take anything for granted. This is especially true when you plan long term (for example, five, ten, or twenty years from now).
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Do not resist them — that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.— Lao Tzu
5. Avoid your triggers
We are all human. When we feel overwhelmed by anger or stress, it’s normal to react. Though changing your attitude always goes a long way, you also want to understand what triggers your negative emotions, so you can either avoid it or learn to deal with it.
If it’s a colleague at work, then your only option may be to ignore them. However there may be stressful things in your life that can be avoided or simply eliminated.
So stay away from drama, toxic environments, energy vampires, and negative people in general. Avoid unnecessary tasks or meetings, and don’t fill your life with too many activities. If there’s someone in your life who tends to hurt your feelings or trigger your anger, consider cutting them out of your life.
When you put yourself first and avoid all the negativity, life becomes a lot easier. It’s not a sign of weakness — you are simply being smart.
6. Don’t assume everyone understands you
We often become angry when someone doesn’t understand us (or when we think they don’t). This is especially true when strong feelings are involved: we may think the other person is either stupid or selfish, and we may lose our temper.
The truth is that we’re all different: while some people will naturally resonate with us, agree with our views, and understand our emotions, others will do the opposite. Not necessarily because “they don’t care” — that’s just the way they are.
So don’t expect everyone to understand you. Don’t assume they will share your feelings, or approve everything you do in life. Don’t put too much value on what others think, and don’t take things personally.
Also, don’t be judgemental. Learn to look for the good in people, and focus on their positive traits. Be very clear about your values and your vision, but don’t expect others to be like you. It will make your life so much easier.
7. Think before you act
This is easier if you are predominantly an introvert, however all personality types can learn to think before they act. When you are too impulsive, you react too quickly to everything around you, which can lead to more stress and anger.
Whether it’s a confrontation, a misunderstanding, or an argument with your partner, it almost always makes sense to take your time before you do or say anything. Even waiting just one more second can make a big difference.
For those who are very spontaneous, this may be hard at first, however just like anything else in life, it can turn into a habit.
When you think before you act, you have more time to assess a certain problem, person, or situation. You are also able to detach your actions from your emotions. Impulsiveness is often linked to strong emotions, so whenever you act too quickly, you tend to give in to anger, which is rarely a good thing.
8. Surround yourself with calm people
Like most species, human beings tend to emulate those around them, often without realizing it. For example, at the beginning of this article, we’ve learned that anger is usually a learned behavior — one usually reacts to triggers the same way their parents or peers did.
One of the easiest ways to become a calmer person is to simply surround yourself with those who are calm, either because of their lifestyle or their personality.
If all your friends live stressful lives, and always seem to be impatient, or frustrated, subconsciously your brain will convince you that you should have the same life. Conversely, being surrounded by calm, reflective people will give you the opportunity to emulate their positive energy.
I don’t suggest you choose who you spend your time with based solely on their personality, however be careful who you interact with: they influence your mood and attitude a lot more than you think.
9. Practice gratitude
When you are aware of all the extraordinary things you get to experience on a daily basis, it’s impossible to be angry. The problem is that, way too often, we forget about what we have and focus all our energy on what we don’t have.
This is why gratitude is so powerful, and why you should practice it every day. The easiest way to do so is to keep a gratitude journal, where you write all the things you are grateful for, either in the morning or at the end of the day.
It doesn’t have to be the most glamorous things: it could be something as simple as knowing like-minded people, being healthy, having enough money to take care of your basic expenses, or having goals that excite you (if you can’t think of anything in particular, have a look at this list of 100 things to be grateful for).
As a survival mechanism, human beings ten to focus on the negative — what they don’t like and what doesn’t work, as well as pain and suffering. Though it does help us avoid potential problems, focusing on the negative rarely improves our mood. Gratitude, on the other hand, makes you realize life is good, and there’s no need to worry and complain all the time.
10. Sleep as much as possible
Sleep does wonders for how we feel. If you have ever had a sleepless night, you know how it affects the following day: it makes you very irritable, and you find it hard to concentrate.
Poor sleep will negatively affect both your physical health and your mental health, so if you want to be calm all the time, you have to make sleep a priority. As long as you follow some basic sleep hygiene tips, you should be fine.
It can be tempting to stay up until late, drinking a lot of coffee, or staring at digital screens just before you go to bed — and there’s nothing wrong with doing so once in a while; however if it becomes part of your daily routine, your sleep quality will significantly worsen, and so will your mental health.
Make sleep a priority, and you’ll be a calmer person effortlessly.
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