Turn up the mindfulness to tone down the heat

Try as we might, there are times we lose our cool.

You’re running late for the bus and you drop the milk as you go to place it into the fridge, spilling the contents of the bottle across the kitchen floor.

You’ve been called in to pick up your child from the school sick bay, but as you wait to turn in to the carpark, you’re rear-ended by another vehicle. 

Your flatmate has been in the bathroom for the last 30 minutes, which means you’re going to be lucky to make your 9am-er.

You’ve wanted to see this movie since its release date was announced and now the person seated next to you is making every slurping noise imaginable as they make their way through the world's biggest novelty sipper cup.  

Despite you travelling the speed limit, a large ute has been tailgating you for much of your journey.

Some things really do test our patience and cause us to lose our cool and make a scene. 

But as the Greater Good asks, how often are our outbursts actually effective? The answer is not often.

So how do we help ourselves to get through those anger-inducing moments?

Recent studies suggest mindfulness could help us, as Greater Good reports.

In a study published in Mindfulness, David DeSteno and his colleagues randomly assigned participants to either a three-week mindfulness course (training in breath and body awareness, open awareness of thoughts, and not judging experiences) or a control activity that involved solving cognitive puzzles, prior to bringing both groups into a lab. 

“There they gave a talk—and then received a scathing review of their performance from an undercover research assistant in the audience.”

Researchers then asked the participants to make a condiment mixture for their critics to sample, based on a few ingredients, including a very hot pepper sauce. This was a clever way to see how aggressive they would be!

Turns out calm people are more inclined to ease up on the hot sauce…

Those who had practiced mindfulness meditation said they were just as angry as non-meditators… but they added significantly less hot sauce to the mix.

So it’s not about suppressing anger completely, but acknowledging it when it arises and staying cool as it passes.

This article is adapted from one by our friends at the Greater Good.