Keep Calm and Carry On

Day 4:
How do I keep my cool?

תִּתְנַהֵג תָּמִיד לְדַבֵּר כָּל דְּבָרֶיךָ בְּנַחַת, לְכָל אָדָם וּבְכָל עֵת, וּבַזֶּה תִּנָּצֵל מִן הַכַּעַס, שֶׁהִיא מִדָּה רָעָה לְהַחְטִיא בְּנֵי אָדָם

Accustom yourself to always speak all of your words calmly, to all people and at every time. In doing so you will prevent your anger from flaring, which is a bad attribute in a man which may cause him to sin.

Accustom yourself– Prepare yourself and plan how you will react to stressful situations as they arise. 

Calmly- Maintain a calm tone and demeanor even in extreme situations where it is understandable to lose one’s cool.

To all people- Treat everyone equally. Be calm and courteous to all people, even if they are hostile or rude to you. Even family members that you may take for granted deserve to be treated with the gentle words and respect you would give to your boss or most important client.

King Solomon taught in the Book of Kohelet “The words of wise men are listened to when they are spoken gently.” (Ecclesiastes 9:17)  

The wise man remains in control under any circumstances. He listens courteously and quietly when others address him. He thinks before he speaks, allowing himself a few moments of thought before he offers his calm response.. He chooses his words carefully and counts them out sparingly like precious coins. 

The wise man relies on the force of his arguments and the merit of his logic. He needs no thunder or drama to intimidate his listeners, strong people do not need strong words. The Chazon lsh once testified that his influence was due to the fact that he was careful with his tone of voice when he advised others.

King Solomon writes in Mishlei “A soft answer turns away wrath, and a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) 

Wrath is a very strong, inner anger. A soft answer can even calm down this inner anger. Therefore, if someone gets in the habit of speaking gently, he is rewarded. Hashem will save him from giving in to his anger.

(adapted from A Letter For the Ages, pages 27-29)

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Civility is an ethic across boundaries. It means respecting strangers. It is a way of saying that though we come from diverse backgrounds, we share a moral universe. Though we are different, we belong to something — the common good — that embraces us both. Without civility there is no society, merely the clamor of individuals and the clash of conflicting ghettos. Because the loudest voice wins. The sooner we recover civility, the better. To regain that moral sense, make an active commitment to resolve the overemphasis on the “I” and the underemphasis on the “we” that is damaging everything and everyone in the cultural climate change we are facing in the world today.

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