Do You Pass The Lawnmower Test?

By Seamus Anthony

It happens to all of us doesn’t it?

You finally get the time to sit down to read a good book, write a new blog post or meditate when Mr Jones next door decides it’s time to mow the lawn, then go around the edges with his edge-trimmer, then use the leaf-blower to blow the clippings into the gutter – even though he did it all just last week.


Ju-u-ust perfect.

In this scenario you have two options.

No wait, three, but physical violence is against the law so we’ll focus on the other two:

1) Get Mad and Burn Up Inside.

2) Get Mad, Then Find A Way To Quickly Diffuse That Anger

We’ll get into these in a moment but first…

What Are The Lawnmowers In Your Life?

Lawnmowers are just my pet hate – but the things that get you all riled up inside might be different. Maybe the way your partner talks to you when they’re in a bad mood, or the way your boss treats you or just the irritating habits of the guy who sits across the desk from you at work.

So passing the “Lawnmower Test” means effectively dealing with the anger or irritation you feel when your ‘lawnmower’ pushes your buttons.

Whatever your pet hates are, the question is – how comfortable are you with the way you respond when your buttons are pushed? Are you OK with getting pissed off and silently raging away when the lawnmowers start up? Or is this something you want to transcend?

I am not writing this article as an ‘expert’, but as a seeker. I’d love to be able to transcend my grumpiness. I have become waaaay more “zen” than I used to be, and a lot of things don’t irritate me anywhere near as much as they used to, but gee, it would be nice to be able to go all smiling-Buddha every time my crazy neighbour decides to give his gigantic field another crew cut.

Let’s have another look at our options…

Option 1- Get Mad and Burn Up Inside

This is the easiest response and it’s probably our default option. I know it is for me.

(By the way as I type this some numbskull is trimming the weeds in the large field behind me. Two doors away some other monkey is using a drill or something. The noise is insane.)

I am sure it isn’t good for us, but I find it very difficult not to get, well – not mad as such – but grumpy and irritated.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that but I would love it if I could somehow “not-care” when the lawnmowers start.

Option 2 – Get Mad, Then Find A Way To Quickly Diffuse That Anger

This is more challenging, but better for our long term health and happiness.

By the way, I think it is unrealistic to try and not get irritated by your Pet Hate at all – let’s stay real here – but how do you quickly diffuse the rage? Here are some options:

Deep breathing

I find this really helps.

I will be explaining a fantastic technique for effective deep breathing in our upcoming e-book, so be sure to sign up for free email or RSS updates in the box at the bottom of this article, that way we can tell you when the e-book is ready.

Move Away from the Problem

Easy solution – but what happens when you can’t? When you have work to do? Or when you have responsibilities to face up to?

For example I could just pack up shop right now and put a couple of miles between me and Edge Trimmer Man, but I have so much work to do and I love my work and I have a family to feed, so it’s not going to happen.

The same applies when you find yourself wanting to strangle your husband or wife – in the nicest possible way of course! You can’t just up and leave like that – there are kids to take care of, finances to get in order and friends coming over for dinner or whatever.

So while moving away from your Lawnmower makes sense if you can, it’s not always an option.

Dwell In the Angst

This has really helped me from time to time. What I do is sit down and just totally focus on how massively pissed off I am. I let the issue totally consume me, and my anger too (but I am not allowed to get off my chair).

Eventually, somehow, it seems to work that the issue just doesn’t get to me after a while. Maybe there’s only so far you can go with this kind of response to external irritants before the anger just naturally runs its course.

Let it Flow then Let it Go

If nobody is around I yell and swear for all I’m worth. Then I drop it.

I read about this in “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” years ago and I remember it made me laugh because growing up in a big Irish family this “technique” is just the norm. Except people didn’t care who was around; that wasn’t a limiting factor.

It sounds like I am joking but seriously, we’d yell and rant and rave and storm off to our rooms and slam the door behind us.

Then ten minutes later we’d walk out as if nothing had happened. Everyone was cool again and never a grudge was held in all these years.

Talk About It

I used to hate namby-pamby advice like this, but I have recently come to realise that I had a typical (and unhelpful) male habit of keeping my worries to myself until I boiled over. I have come to realise that while we may feel a bit awkward at first, if we blokes just bite the bullet and discuss issues like adult Human Beings it really helps to alleviate internal rage.

Just don’t confuse a monologue for communication.

And while you’re at it, don’t confuse “talking about it” for complaning and moaning.

As an older boy told me once during a wet and miserable school camp: “Nobody likes a whinger mate”.

(Do people use the term ‘whinger’ in the United States? If not, it means a person who whines and moans all the time.)

I would love to hear your strategies for diffusing anger and irritation in the comments section – for example, what about diet? Can changes made in that area improve our ability to become “unflappable?”

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Hi, I'm Seamus Anthony. I am an author, artist and musician from Australia. Here at Rebel Zen, I document my journey as an creative artist and human and in doing so, hopefully help you in your own progress through your life of creativity. Go get your free E-book by me: "Taming The Monkey Mind".

7 comments Write a comment

  1. “if we blokes just bite the bullet and discuss issues like adult Human Beings…” Crikey, steady on there mate, let’s not go too far with this now 😉

    Here’s a couple more ideas. One, visualize something nice that makes you real happy, I like a seagull floating in a blue sky, or look reeeal closely at a beautiful piece of nature, a flower or a tree will do. When you come back, often the anger is gone.

    Number two, I pick up my guitar and let the feeling flow out there.

  2. I like to use the Litany Against Fear from Dune as a meditation when I feel anger overwhelming me. Simply substitute the word “anger” for the word “fear”. Of course, sometimes fear can lead to anger, so you could always just use the original phrase. In any case, it makes for a good meditation mantra to repeat in your mind while becoming calm. It reads:

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    Ians last blog post..Botnets After Your Phone

  3. Oh how I hate the lawnmower!!! When I study for an exam I usually hide my dads… hehe

    I have two younger siblings (bro 13, sis 9). When I need time to write, think, or learn, I put on my headphones and listen to instrumental music (classical, chillout, etc). Works great for me!


  4. I just am not very comfortable with anger. I find unless dealt with properly, people say and do things using the excuse ” I was angry” that truly hurt others and the planet.
    On the other hand, some angry people, learned that it is nothing more than force of emotion, and turned it into a force to be reckoned with for change and progress.
    What we are angry at “lawnmovers” is rarely what is really ticking us off. It’s more like the lack of time we have to really live instead of produce, that we feel protective of…and a lawnmower, talkative neighbor, ringing phone only make us aware of it.

    Harmonys last blog post..When A Good Seed Goes BAD

  5. Thanks for the quality comments friends 🙂 It is an interesting topic to me – how we can diffuse or release anger, frustration etc without causing more damage to our already fractured society/planet.

  6. It’s not about being unflappable, it’s about not letting whether or not you are flappable get to you. You might get angry for a few minutes, but then become totally cool again. And that’s fine. But letting your whole day be ruined by an event or noise is not cool.

    Perhaps part of it is learning to accept the “noise” as a part of life itself too, along with the quiet of the garden you sought.

    donnas last blog post..Chickens?

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