Emotional fitness

Recollect that feeling as you rest after an intense workout. You are panting hard and your heart is drumming away in your chest. As you recover, your heartbeat becomes softer and it slows down to its natural rhythm.

A measure of physical fitness is the time it takes to recover from an elevated heart rate back to the resting heart rate. While this might take a couple of minutes for most people, elite athletes can bring it down to a few seconds through their training.

Now recollect how it feels to be angry. Likewise, you can sense the physical changes – the tingling in your palms, the rush of blood to your face and the feeling of rage surging through your body. Your heart rate also rises when this happens. When the anger subsides, those feelings go away and your heart rate returns to normal.

The measure of our emotional fitness is the time it takes for us to go from anger to our normal state. Similar to physical fitness, it can be trained like the muscles that help us run, swim or do a cardio workout.

Buddhists philosophy likens holding on to our anger to grasping a piece of hot coal, in order to throw at somebody else. The sooner we learn to drop it, the lesser it can damage us.

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