The other day I was angry. Very angry.

I felt like I was being taken advantage of, I felt like I wasn’t appreciated, I felt like I was being slapped in the face, and the list goes on and on. The details don’t really matter in this blog post, though I’m sure you are wondering what could have happened. But what’s important is that I was angry and quite unhappy.

Because that’s what happens when we get angry. We get unhappy. It doesn’t matter who started it, maybe a parent is refusing to pay what they owe, maybe an adjudicator is showing favoritism, or maybe a family is accusing you of being greedy and selfish. The result of being angry is that we are unhappy and no longer at peace.

What Is Your Anger Doing to Your Students?

So, this trickles into our piano lessons. We get distracted by our anger while our student is playing the most beautiful interpretation of a Chopin prelude and we miss a rare moment to affirm their amazing efforts. We get busy thinking of how we are going to address the situation and miss those “aha!” moments when we can creatively think of an activity to help our student with the problem they have. We are short and curt with another parent who is trying to explain that Suzie didn’t get much practice this week because of some stressful situation at home. In short, our anger:

  • Stifles our creativity
  • Distracts us from enjoying the beauty of the present
  • Prevents us from empathizing with others

So this weekend, I happened upon a way to help myself during these moments where I’m tempted to stay angry. It was quite accidental, but it was so beautiful and simple that I wanted to share it with you for all those times when you deal with angry parents.

What’s the secret for getting rid of anger?

I wrote a thank you note.

Not to the person with whom I was irate. I wrote two thank you notes to two people that I should have thanked a few weeks ago. And granted, I didn’t write the thank you notes until after I had vented to my husband (which didn’t make me feel better, but it made me feel justified). But as I was writing them, I realized something…

There’s just something beautiful and magical that happens when you write a thank you note. Whatever ill-will you are feeling toward someone else melts away as you acknowledge in writing that someone else has contributed to where you are today. 

What else did I do?

That’s it. Nothing. It’s that simple and I don’t want to say much more about it because you won’t know how powerful it is until you try it. But the next time you are irate with a client or even mildly annoyed, try writing a thank you note, by hand, to someone that has helped you. It could be your piano tuner, a physical therapist that helped you feel better, a piano mom who is amazingly flexible, a neighbor who mowed your lawn, or a pharmacy tech who’s smile always makes you feel like a million dollars. All of these people are connected to you in some way and and have helped you to be what you are today.

So take a moment to experience the power of thanking someone.

And you’ll understand why I’m no longer angry.