Are you an angry hippo?

The hot days of summer are about to transform you. To find out how, let’s take a stroll down to the Luangwa River and commune with our friend, the hippopotamus.

Ahh… the hot and lazy days of summer. Time to relax. Time to take it easy. Just like the hippos in Africa’s Luangwa River.

What do hippos in Africa have to do with you?

Very little – until the hot weather turns dry. During the dry season, an amazing thing happens to the Luangwa River. It shrivels up. Bit by bit it recedes until nothing is left but a few pools of water.

Most of the animals leave for higher ground, seeking water and food.

Not the hippos. They stay in their water – their ever shrinking pools of water. As the water recedes, they grow hotter. As the water evaporates, they grow more crowded. As the heat and crowding increase, the hippos grow ever more surly.

They bare their teeth.

They snarl.

Tempers flare.

They pick fights.

It’s river rage!

It’s river rage. (If you’ve ever come face to face with an angry hippo – all 5,000 pounds of it – you will understand why all the other animals have sense enough to seek other watering holes.)

Humans do not always have the same sense that other animals have.

Sometimes we can be more like the hippos. Sometimes we just get nasty and snarl and pick fights.

This brings us back to those hot and lazy days of summer. Those same days that seem just made for relaxing and taking it easy – until we get stuck in traffic or in a ticket line-up or just about anywhere we have to wait. The combination of heat and crowding gets to be too much for us.

Welcome to road rage, air rage, parking lot rage, supermarket checkout lineup rage, and just about every other rage they may someday name.

Rage does not equal happiness. It is virtually impossible to be happy when we are angry.

While anger is a natural emotion, and justifiably expected as a response to an injustice, it is not something we really want to hold on to.

How to tame the hot, angry hippo in you this summer

How to cool the anger on hot days

So what do we do? There are many ways to avoid anger. Here are just a few.

  • Before heading out onto the highway, into the malls, to the theater or anywhere people may gather, remind yourself that it is summer and time to relax.
  • Air conditioning can help. I am not the biggest fan of fake air, but a little cool can go a long way to avoiding a temper tantrum.
  • Music, it is said, can sooth the soul of savage beasts. I do not know if it has ever been tried on hippos, but it sure works on humans. Put some soothing music on in your car on the way home from work instead of listening to shock jocks or the latest song about violence.
  • Plan extra time to run your errands so that delays are more bearable.
  • Before leaving, remove the crowbar from your trunk. Yes, it’s true. Some people keep a “weapon” in their trunks in case they feel the need to explode.
  • When I am in my car and somebody tries to cut in, I usually let them. I say to myself, “She seems to be in more of a hurry then I am, so let her go.” Then I think how good it feels not to be under the other driver’s stress. Of course, this only works when I am not the one in a hurry. And I admit I find this much harder to do when I am face to face with people in a lineup.
  • Then, there is the old standby of counting to three before saying – or doing – anything you might regret.

I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy these hot and lazy days of summer. And there is no way I can enjoy anything when Im angry. If you feel that way, too, why not try one of the techniques I mention to avoid all the pain of inflicting anger on yourself. After all, your anger hurts you the most.

Enjoy your summer … every hot and lazy day of it.

* NOTE: This was adapted from a speech entitled Hippo Rage.


  1. I’ve been a lot less angry since I stopped drinking 8 months ago. Funny how things work out…

  2. I’ve been a lot less angry since I stopped drinking 8 months ago. Funny how things work out…

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