You wanna know about anger? I'll tell you about anger. That's all I can do. I can tell you about it. And then you do what you want. Or what you can. Because anger will ruin your whole stinking life, if you let it. And maybe even if you don't. Anger, my friend, is one tough cookie. It grabs you. Twists you. Overcomes you. And then goes about destroying the things you love best in your whole life.

That's anger.

It grips you in the middle of your chest. Your chest feels tight. What you're feeling is the resistance of your flesh and muscle and bone against a pressure, an energy, an evil excitement that is bursting to get out. It's stronger than you, buddy. You have to know that. It's stronger and when it can't burst out of your chest or squeeze through the spaces of your rib cage or rip your heart into little pieces, it finds another route. It starts to flow out to your arms, up into your head. It hits the muscles in your shoulders and makes them tense and tight and ready to strike out. It makes your arms tingle and your tendons rigid. Your whole neck goes hard as the anger begins to flood your brain.

Sure you try to stop it. But this makes you even more tense, more frustrated, as you now begin to feel like the victim of this surge of fury . The anger's got you. You're angry that you're angry. You're feeling helpless against the uncontrollable urge. And as it fills your mind you're losing your power to resist it. Because now it's got your rational self in its jaws and its making mincemeat out of your attempts at logic and understanding.

Now, my friend, watch as your thoughts turn black and accusing. Watch how the anger has not only conquered your mind but now has your mind colluding with the anger. Fueling it. Thoughts that won't go away. Accusations. Blame. Indignation. Guilt. Jealousy. Hurt feelings. Scars and old wounds enflamed and enflaming.

And now comes the test: Will you act or not? Will you speak or not? Will you yell and hurt, insult and accuse? Will you trash and destroy? Will you lie and manipulate?

Will you begin to destroy your life and all the things you hold so dear?

An exaggeration? Not by a long shot. Because anger can destroy in a flash or over time. Even after all the I'm-sorry's and forgive-me's, even after you've made up and are trying to put it back the way it was, even after the flood of warmth that often follows after you've cooled-down, the damage has been done. And the damage can be forever.

Year after year, outburst after outburst, chink by chink you are destroying something that you once cherished, and maybe still do. You'll notice, if you have that much awareness left, that there's not as much trust as you once enjoyed, not as much openness. Not as much love.

I'm an expert on anger. I've lived with it all my life.

My anger has caused me and others irrevocable harm. I've tried countless ways to get a hold on my anger, but nothing seemed to work. The strength of the emotion was such that no techniques could quell its outburst. And it seemed that no matter how hard I tried to understand the source of this anger — whether in the past or the present — and to erase or correct it — I could not stem its destructive outbreak.

Anger, despite its destructiveness, holds pleasure, a surge of energy that enlivens the life of one whose life has grown dull. There is the righteousness — the sense of justice and punishment. The victory — not allowing one's loss or defeat to go without response. The vengeance — for the wrongs of yesterday or today. The simple feeling of strength and power, the sense of control, the gratification of seeing fear in the eyes of another rather than feel it in oneself.

And, of course, there is the delight of release and the relaxation that comes after one's fury is spent. And often there is the softening, the opening of the heart that had been so imprisoned in bonds of frustration and hurt, old and current, real and imagined. There is the desire for forgiveness and reconciliation, even the pleasure of guilt and remorse that follows.

The pleasure inherent in anger is the source of its sin. The destructiveness becomes simply the price of the pleasure, and the pleasure — like an addiction — is craved after and uncontrollable. Like envy or jealousy or greed or gossip it is nearly impossible to control, so powerful is the satisfaction and fulfillment it brings.

But if one is very lucky — for in the end I think it is primarily good fortune and Divine grace that overcomes anger — one gets to see that there is a different kind of pleasure, one that comes from kindness and forbearance, understanding and forgiveness, and, in simple terms, the pleasure that comes from having peace in the home and between humans, especially humans that you love.

And once you have the good fortune to see or experience this, well, this pleasure so out-intensifies the pleasure from anger that you simply don't want to waste your time. Because, you see, anger is a luxury for those who believe they have time.

But time is an illusion. Time is here only now. And once you realize this, you get to make a decision about how you want to spend your now. Especially when you know that it is the only now you have and may ever have.

Do you really want to spend it in anger and create all that destruction?

Now, don't get me wrong. When I say that overcoming anger is primarily a matter of luck or good fortune, I am not saying that one who is afflicted with uncontrollable anger (is there any other kind?) shouldn't do, as I did, everything that he or she can to get it under control, whether that be therapy, meditation, jogging or whatever. Though it may be luck and Divine grace that finally brings the desired outcome, in the meantime the responsibility for anger and its consequences lies entirely with me and you.

And when I say that no techniques worked for me, I could just as easily say that all have worked for me, for I have literally spent decades working on this unfortunate part of myself in the hope of ending the spiral of destruction and loss of trust that anger brings in its wake. I look at this work as an investment, as seeding the field knowing that in the end it is only G‑d that determines when and whether the crops will grow. In the meantime it is up to us to plough, seed and pray, plough, seed and pray until the heavens open, the rains fall and the seeds begin to sprout and fruit.

But when finally I changed — and thank G‑d changed I have — it seemed like a gift, one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, from G‑d. I not only felt and feel grateful, but downright lucky.

My nows are filled with more good times, feelings of unity, pleasant vibes in the house, happier children, a better marriage, more compatible work relationships and even less frustration when driving on Israeli roads (perhaps the real test). Plus, I get to like myself more and walk the earth without the nagging feeling that I am a menace to myself and others.

Let me be clear. I still get angry. Anger, it seems to me, is just one of those emotions that people have, whether they should or not. Certainly the ideal may be that one would never get angry, but I haven't met those folks. Or, the ones I have met are in the category of tzaddikim, the righteous ones that walk the earth and heavens.

But I don't fit in that category, nor do the people I know and have known. So, for the vast majority of us, anger is a part of life, even though I believe, as our Sages teach, that anger is akin to idol worship, that it is a denial of G‑d's providence, omnipotence and omniscience.

But overcoming that denial, or rather coming to see and accept G‑d's hand in every aspect of life, is another of those things, like overcoming anger, that for most of us takes a life time, if it ever happens at all, if we're ever lucky enough.

Thus, anger remains.

The difference in my life now is that I just can't tolerate it or the destruction and hurt that it causes to others. I feel it, I recognize it, I accept it, and then, when I'm lucky, I let it go, along with all the obsessive thoughts that accompany it — the accusations and condemnations, the hurt and injustice, the jealousy, the desire for revenge.

I'd like to take credit for these changes, but in truth they feel as much the result of happenstance as effort, of G‑d's intervention and providence.

First, the destructiveness of my behavior in all its terror became so vivid I could not tolerate it. I not only saw this in times of anger, but also in vision and memory of angry times past, visions that I think were gifts from Above. I became tormented by all that I was capable of destroying, and had. I saw and felt the hurt and damage I was causing others with my cruel words and actions. I saw and felt it as if I were the object of my own anger. And I cringed and cried as I felt the pain and damage I was causing to those I loved most. It was as if the anger was happening all over again, but now I could see it with distance and perspective, though the feelings were as intense as if it were happening now. Not feelings of anger, but feelings of revulsion for what I was watching, for what I had done.

Second, during some recent difficult times, I have been the object of love and concern, patience and dedication by some of those at whom I had been the angriest. In the face of their kindness and of my need, I could no longer muster the anger I once had. Now, I could only feel gratitude and love and perceived in these onetime objects of my anger such angelic souls that I felt searing shame at my past actions towards them.

That they were now so loving despite the anger that I'd spent at them over the years increased their virtue even further and where once I could, in moments of blind anger, see only their negativity, now any perceived hurt or disappointment I felt from them was balanced with my awareness of and appreciation for their goodness and kindness. And to them I ask and will continue to ask forgiveness.

I also began to more and more recognize G‑d's hand in my life, and His goodness. The reality of G‑d's participation in and control of the world, even in times that could be described as "bad", penetrated deeper and deeper into my psyche and soul. Thus, no matter what happened I began to see and truly believe that this, too, comes from G‑d. The hurts or disappointments, the lacks and the frustrations — all come from G‑d. There is no one to blame. Or if there is, it is only Him. Each obstacle, each frustration, each hurt, each fear, every childhood injury or lack comes ultimately from Him, for my benefit, as part of my life's journey — a journey tailored by Him only for me.

From this perspective I saw that anger is always wrong. It has no justification, no matter how righteous the justification feels. Acknowledging both the humanness of this emotion and its total wrongness gives me a place from which to relate to my anger. Knowing it is wrong, the mental obsessions are also wrong. There is nothing to do with my anger other than to acknowledge it and let it pass. And often, letting it pass requires that I ask, that I beg G‑d to take it from me, to open my heart and my mind so that I can perceive what is taking place more compassionately, from a wider perspective, from outside myself and inside the other.

And luckily, this has taken place enough times that I am able to experience what life is like without my anger: what life in my home is like, what my relationship with my wife is like, what my relationship to myself is like, and what my relationship with G‑d is like.

And, it is good. So much better than ever before. It is, without exaggeration, like a rebirth. And each moment, each day that I live without anger or even with less anger, I beg and pray that it not return. It is, in spite of its humanness, so very evil and destructive. And each day that it does not return, I thank G‑d for His intervention, for the "luck" He provided and provides.

Please hear this: Even after your remorse, if you are fortunate enough to be forgiven by those you love, you will still not be able to recapture and relive all those days and nights you wasted in your anger, time that could have been spent in love and good feeling. Anger fills the irreplaceable now, disallowing the wonder that could be.

It destroys the goodness of life.