Are you sitting on a five? If you aren’t quite sure what in the world I’m talking about, I’ll gladly tell you.

A “five” in this case is a medium measure on the anger scale. Some folks comfortably hover there just waiting for the right trigger to move the needle.

It can start out innocently — waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Funny, though, seeing how most of us consistently sleep on the same side night after night.

Growing up, my parents had all sorts of comments on this subject.

“Scratch your mad place and get glad,” my mom might say. Or if we would pout, they’d pull out their favorite nickname — “Pokey lips.”

“Better watch out,” my dad would quip. “Poke your lips too far out and somebody’s going to step on them.”

This is not to suggest that my folks never allowed us to have our feelings, as the saying goes. Just might want to put a time limit on how long we indulge them. I am now most thankful for the seeds that were planted. They wound up taking root.

So the other day when I regressed a bit and Ron called me on it, he didn’t have to tell me twice.

We were sitting at an intersection waiting to turn left. When the traffic light changed in our favor and the driver ahead of us did not move and the seconds ticked off — to the point where cars behind us were honking horns — I waited as long as I could. Then I was “forced” to reach over and honk our horn, too.

Ron said nothing. He merely waited for the guy ahead of us to take the hint and move along.  The teachable moment presented itself a short time later, when Ron, very much like my dad would have, calmly and quietly explained the merits of a cooler head.

“You never know what’s going on with other people,” he began. “They may get mad, stop the car and get out with a gun. All because you honked the horn at them.”

Well, I didn’t like that not even a little bit. Because there was nothing I could say. He was right. Or, as my parents might have once suggested — it’s only funny until someone gets hurt.

And there are far too many folks around these days who are ready, willing and able to lash out at the least little provocation.

I’m just saying, cooler heads prevail. It only takes one trigger, no pun intended, one person lashing out to get the ball rolling. 

If in turn, those on the receiving end decide not to ignore it or that they are entitled to push back, well, let’s just say things can escalate quickly.  

I took Ron’s words to heart, just as I had so many other wise comments my parents tried to instill along the way.

For me at least, dialing down the anger meter — maybe even recalibrating it to a “0” instead of a five, seemed in order. Two words now replace it in my memory bank.  Stop complaining.

Did you wake up this morning? Were you able to get out of bed and walk? Can you hear? Can you talk? Do you have love in your life, or at the very least a friend or two who still like you and are glad you’re on this Earth?

If you can answer “yes” to any of those, re-think how you approach the day. If you can answer “yes” to all of them, then I’ll borrow another saying from bygone days — “If you want something to complain about, I’ll give you something to complain about.” 

Life is too short to be griping about everything that doesn’t go our way, things we don’t like. All I know is, that list can get pretty long, pretty quickly. There is greater power to be found.

Let’s just say for argument sake — or to prevent arguments — we drop the rope and really hit others where it hurts.

To pull out one more nugget that could and should become the best weapon in our arsenal, kill them with kindness. That’ll teach ‘em to mess with you.