Someone I dated years ago recently reappeared and began calling and texting on a regular basis, and taking me to dinner at expensive restaurants. Let’s call him Mr. Boomerang. I was flattered. And yet, something was a little off. Last week, the real reason for his getting back in touch with me surfaced: Mr. Boomerang thought I could give him some lucrative business through my current employer.
When I first realized what was going on, the ugly green slime of anger started rising from my stomach up through my throat and into my brain. I’m pretty sure those nice dinners went on his expense account. Hmmm, do you think he expensed his mileage too?
Thankfully, the Dalai Lama’s words of wisdom, from The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, came to the rescue. As the Dalai Lama explains, “hatred and anger are considered to be the greatest evils because they are the greatest obstacles to developing compassion and altruism, and they destroy one’s virtue and calmness of mind.” The way to overcome anger and hatred is to cultivate their antidotes – patience and tolerance – by actively practicing them.
I was determined not to let Mr. Boomerang destroy my peace of mind, so I shifted my perspective and decided to use the experience to practice my patience and tolerance skills, per the Dalai Lama’s advice:
“Now there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful towards your enemy for providing that precious opportunity. Because if you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to the combination of your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy.”
With that in mind, I politely told Mr. Boomerang about some research he needed to do in the area of my company that’s of interest to him, gave him my work number, and told him to call me during business hours.
But don’t think that the Dalai Lama is a wimp:
“Now when we talk about how we should develop tolerance towards those who harm us, we should not misunderstand this to mean that we should just meekly accept whatever is done to us. Rather, if necessary, the best, the wisest course, might be to simply run away—run miles away!”
I did the equivalent of running miles away: I deleted Mr. Boomerang from my iPhone. That felt good, but not nearly as good as reacting to a trying situation with patience and tolerance and avoiding all of the negative emotions that anger unleashes inside of us!