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It was The Greek philosopher Epictetus that commented, “If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit.”  Often people with high expectations spend a lot of time being angry that life is not as it should be.

It was The Greek philosopher Epictetus that commented, “If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit.”  Often people with high expectations spend a lot of time being angry that life is not as it should be.

They are constantly comparing the way things are with the way they think they ought to be and then feeling angry about the disparity.  This, of course, is their right, but often such anger habits greatly diminish the quality of their lives and the lives of those around them.
This was the situation last week as we were celebrating the 56th independence of our nation, Nigeria, when I went to purchase bread from a popular shopping mall in Owerri. 
We were at a long queue for a while, and the man, three persons away from me started to complain by saying, “look at how we are waiting for South African bread here.  Can't our politicians who we know stole our money use such money to establish a mall like in this country to create more opportunities for our people?”
He was so angered that the person by his side who tried relating some good reasons why Nigeria is still the big brother of other African countries could not pacify him.  That reminds me then that his action is a pinch of what goes on daily in the heart of many Nigerians both in-residence and in diasporas.
But, to survive as a nation, we must learn to break away from such anger.  Let every Nigerian sheath his sword for peace.  To break this anger habit, let us shift our attention from making negative comparisons to finding similarities between how things should be and how they actually are and feeling grateful about these.
You can ask yourself what difference it really makes that something is not just as you think it should be.  Often we think that things have to go a certain way if we are to obtain our goals.  Actually there are many routes to the same goal, and amazingly, there is no necessity that they go any one particular way.
Sometimes highly perfectionist people are afraid they can not handle things unless everything goes according to their plans.  In such cases, building self-confidence by remembering times when you handled emergencies and unexpected events well can assist you in developing tolerance for the unexpected and enable you to respond more easily to whatever happens.
Disappointment is a signal that you need to decide whether to carry on striving toward something or let it go.  It is how you feel when you are expecting something you want and do not get it.  It helps you recognize when something is over or is not going to happen and signals that you need to reevaluate and renew your resolve to take action toward whatever else you want.
It is a passive, low energy emotion that is an ideal ready state for helping you let go of something that is not possible.
Recently, a television celebrity had as a guest on his programme, an aged man.  He was a very rare old man indeed.  His remarks were entirely unpremeditated and of course absolutely unrehearsed.  They simply bubbled up out of a personality that was radiant and happy.
And whenever he said anything, it was so naïve, so apt, that the audience roared with laughter.  They loved him.  The celebrity was impressed, and enjoyed it with the others.  Finally he asked the old man why he was so happy, You must have a wonderful secret of happiness,” he suggested.
“No,” replied the old man, “I have not any great secret.  It is just as plain a the nose on your face.  When I get up in the morning,” he explained, “I have two choices, either to be happy or to be unhappy, and what do you think I do?  I just choose to be happy, and that is all there is to it.”
That may seem an oversimplification, and it may appear that the old man was superficial, but I recall that Abraham Lincoln, whom nobody could accuse of being superficial, said that people were just about as happy as they made up their minds to be.
As a Nigerian, you can be unhappy if you want to be.  And it is the easiest thing in the world to ever accomplish.  Just choose unhappiness.  Go around telling yourself that things are not going well, that nothing is satisfactory, and you can be quite sure of being unhappy.
But say to yourself, things are going nicely.  Life is good.  I choose happiness, and you can be quite certain of having your choice.  I have discovered that children are more expert in happiness than adults.  And adult who can carry the spirit of a child into middle and old age is a genius, for he will preserve the truly happy spirit with which God endowed the young.
Hear this: The subtlety of Jesus Christ is remarkable, for He tells us that the way to live in this world is to have the childlike heart and mind.  In order words, never get old or dull or jaded in spirit.  Don't become super-sophisticated.
Recently, I sat across from a husband and wife, though strangers to me.  The lady was expensively dressed, as the cloth, jewelry and costume which she wore indicated.  But she was having a most unpleasant time with herself.
Loudly she proclaimed that the environment was dingy and drafty, the service abominable, and the food most unpalatable.  She complained and fretted about everything.
And her husband, on the contrary, was a genial, affable, easygoing man who obviously had the capacity to take things as they came. I thought he seemed a bit embarrassed by his wife's critical attitude and somewhat disappointed, too.
To change the conversation he asked what business I was in, and then said that he was a lawyer.  And added, “My wife is in the manufacturing business.” This became surprising tome, for she did not seem to be the industrial or executive type, so I asked, “What does she manufacture?”
“Unhappiness,” he replied.  “She manufactures her own unhappiness.” I was grateful for his frank remark, for it describes exactly what so many people do, they manufacture their own unhappiness.
Let us not forget that there are so many problems created by life itself that dilute our happiness that it is indeed most foolish to distill further unhappiness within your own mind.  It is therefore, foolish to manufacture personal unhappiness to add to all the other difficulties over which you have little or no control.
Suffice it to say that we manufacture our unhappiness by thinking unhappy thoughts, by the attitudes which we habitually take, such as the negative feeling that everything is going to turn out badly, or that other people are getting what they do not deserve and we are failing to get what we do deserve.
But to get the best even in this recession moment in our country we must make a mental list of happy thoughts and pass them through our minds several times every day.  If an unhappiness thought should enter our mind, immediately stop, and consciously eject it, and substitute a happiness thought. 
Such thought will help cause events to turn out better.  Do not affirm that things will not go well in this country again.  Finally, hear this: Nigeria will survive!
See you at the top of success.

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