THE BLOG
07/16/2014 03:28 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2014

The Secret to Happiness Is to Leave the Armor on the Wall

John M. Simmons

"I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers." Who started that funny but amazingly profound observation that continues to circle virally around the Internet?

Most of my professional time, anymore, is spent online. I have to say it's difficult to not get caught up in the negativity. There are lots of people and causes that speak out on social media whom I vehemently disagree with. Most of the time I can hold my tongue, but sometimes I slip. Those are the bad days. I never feel better after lashing out while wielding a keyboard that is mightier than the sword. Usually after such a failure to keep peace, my mind can't leave it alone. I can't stop thinking about another anecdote, comparison or clever dig that I should have used to make myself look smart and belittle my opponent.

Evenings after such days are not the ones when my family wants to be around me. I am cross and comparatively aggressive. I'm looking for anything to argue about. My wife lets me rant, because she knows that's how I get it out of my system. But Amy is a peacemaker; the greatest of all personalities. Even so, when I have spent a day avoiding the high road, I'm not worthy of the treatment that she continues to give me.

Battle armor always looks better on the wall than in the field.

I know I'm a better builder than destroyer. Years in manufacturing, engineering and leading an international business should have taught me to quit messing around with wrecking balls. I have never been proud of myself for succeeding when I observe the ruins of what someone else created and I tore down. My feelings are the same whether or not I appreciated the creation that I decided to take a swing at. I don't know why I succumb to the desire to battle. Sometimes I think that I'm at my best when I'm at my worst; but I'm not. No one is. It's just a lie we tell ourselves. Battle armor always looks better on the wall than in the field.

I guess I like the feeling I get when someone who believes like I do tells me how smart I am when my negative efforts damage the position of one who disagrees with us. It's a fleeting feeling, though; and it's counterfeit.

If only all of us could do a brake-check before rushing into digital mayhem.

Nothing compares with how I feel when I get an email telling me that by sharing our family's experiences and providing words of encouragement, I have given someone else the strength to carry on in their own challenges.

Those are the good times. Those are days when I feel like my efforts were worthwhile. Evenings after days like that are the ones where I realize how important my family is to me. My kids love being with me and talking to me during the times when I decide to use my efforts in building things up. They want to know how they can help me. My family catches the positive energy and they want to be a part of the visions I have to make the world a better place.

If only all of us could do a brake-check before rushing into digital mayhem. We would all be much happier in our own lives if we fought only when it was really necessary for us to fight. And what a place the world would be if everyone spent all of their time building up what they love, rather than tearing down what they hate.

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