The Cow in the Parking Lot

Real Estate Agent with Raleigh Cary Realty NC Broker #178638

I recently read a small but provocative book called The Cow in the Parking Lot.  It's not about anger management; it's about choosing not to be angry at all.  Just .. don't.

The title comes from a modern-day parable.  Suppose it's Christmas shopping time at the mall and you've been waiting for someone to back out for awhile, with your blinker blinking.  When they finally do pull out, quick as you please someone slides in from the other direction!  You are furious!

So what do you do?  Drive away, seething?  Lean on your horn?  Maybe give the guy the finger and a few choice words as you pull away?  Or get out of the car and confront him, so he knows exactly what a jerk you think he is?

Now, what if it had been a cow that ambled into that parking place and lay down there?  You probably would have just shrugged and moved on. Cows will do what they do; no reason to take it personally.

The author points out that there's no reason to take the first scenario personally, either.  That person might not have seen you, or they may have some reason to be in a hurry.  In any case, for sure it's not about you! 

But your anger will make it personal. Anger floods your system with negativity that will linger the  rest of the afternoon.  If you confront the other person,  you'll make him angry, too, and ruin his day; and he'll go home and take it out on his wife and children and then they'll be upset.  So you've made nothing better (you won't get the parking space back) and made several people's day worse, including your own.

Choosing not to be angry takes practice.  When you get poor customer service, when someone cuts you off in traffic, when your mobile phone statement lists a bogus call to Iceland -- you have every right to be angry!   Just .. don't.  You'll be happier and healthier, and have a better chance of getting the situation rectified, if the issue something that can be rectified -- like the call to Iceland.

Great little book.  The Cow in the Parking Lot, by Susan Edmiston and Leonard Scheff.  Available on Amazon.

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Comments (15)

Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
I sounds really good but for me probably easier said than done. I'm not a hot head and I don't get mad at everything but every once in a while it happens.
Nov 03, 2012 12:50 PM
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
I've never read anything of yours before Diane but I like this so I suggested it.
Nov 03, 2012 12:50 PM
Christine O'Shea
Christine E O'Shea Broker - Naples, FL

That sounds like a wonderful book.  I will have to check it out on Amazon and purchase it for some people I know.  I rarely get angry any more, it is a waste, but something that is difficult to tell others!

Nov 03, 2012 12:51 PM
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Diane, sounds like a great book that should be a must read. It's hard not to get angry..but it is easier if you learn to deal with it in a good way. If not, it does fester and while the thing or person you're angry with is most likely going on their merry way, YOU are the one that is suffering by holding onto it. I'll have to check this book out.

Nov 03, 2012 12:52 PM
Liz Hill

It sounds like an interesting book for everyone in the 21st century! You are so right ...anger is very detrimental to one's health, relationships and even appearance! That's enough to make anyone avoid it like the plague....

Nov 03, 2012 12:58 PM
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

Sounds like a very MOOOOving book. Will not read because would rather milk it for all it is worth. Now don't get angry.

Nov 03, 2012 01:08 PM
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Like the logic in this book.  There is not so much that is worth getting angry about.  Why not take the higher road?  

All the best, Michelle

Nov 03, 2012 01:13 PM
Zoltan & Eily Bartfai
Remax Realtron Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
New & Resale Homes/Condos - Toronto

Hi Dianne, The cow analogy does put the situation into perspective.  Do you believe in "Karma"? What goes around comes around.  Not getting angry is a healthier choice.  One of our friend's father suffered a heart attack when he encountered the same situation.  He had a massive heart attack and died on the spot.  It's not worth it.

Nov 03, 2012 01:21 PM
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

Thanks for the Suggest, Michael!

Hi Christine.  Anger never helps to resolve things -- and we in real estate know that better than anybody!

Cindy, it really is hard not to get angry sometimes.  But if you can step back and put things into perspective, that helps.  It's usually trivial stuff, in the grand scheme of things.

Hi Liz.  Anger contributes to stress, and stress is very hard on the body.  The principles of The Cow in Parking Lot are taken from Buddhism -- not as a religion, but as a way of finding peace and calm in daily life, and hence joy.  No one can be both angry and joyful.

Very punny, Erv!

Hi Michelle.  Indeed, it's pretty much all small stuff.


Nov 03, 2012 01:29 PM
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

Zolton and Elly, OMG he died arguing over a parking space?  How sad.


Nov 03, 2012 01:33 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Dianne, That would have to be a learned response but would be better for both parties in those situations. Suggested.

Nov 03, 2012 01:34 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

I think sometimes folks get angry because it is expected of them to respond somehow. I will have to look for that book. Sounds like a good one.

Nov 04, 2012 02:29 AM
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

Hi Debbie.  Thanks for the Suggest!  I don't think I ever realized that getting angry is a choice rather than simple cause and effect.   We can also choose not to get angry -- who knew?

Toni, you're right.  People also get angry because being intimidating and confrontational gets them what they want.  Of course, when using anger to manipulate others is successful, they continue to use it.

Nov 04, 2012 07:37 AM
Bob Ratliff
Robert Ratliff Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Bob"

Howdy Dianne, I got a chuckle out of Erv Fleishman

I enjoyed your blog, I try daily not to let those situations affect my anger but many times I do have those trying day's. Since being a Real Estate Professional i have gained patience and learned to smile and let the universe take it's course. I do still get angry but it doesn't last long, its a process to re-wire the human thinking responses, the cow analogy will now be in the back of my mind just like that song you can get out of your head....thanks

I'll need to pick this book up and read it, even the title captures my attention... thanks for sharing

Nov 04, 2012 07:33 PM
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

Hi Bob.  It's a book with a lot of relevance to real estate, for sure!

Everybody, how cool is this?  I got an email from one of the authors:


Dear Dianne,
Thanks for your very kind review of our book!

Susan Edmiston

Nov 05, 2012 06:53 AM