good temper

Being slow to anger and regulating your anger well, but without being a pushover.

To have good temper is to be slow to anger, and regulating your anger so as not to make poor decisions in a fit of rage; but also not to be such a pushover that people can walk all over you or won’t trust you to rise to their defense when that is needed.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • being a firebrand
  • flying off the handle
  • fury
  • hot-headedness
  • rage
  • being tempermental
  • volatility
    but also
  • being a nebbish
  • being a pushover

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it

  • “If then you wish not to be of an angry temper, do not feed the habit: throw nothing on it which will increase it: at first keep quiet, and count the days on which you have not been angry. I used to be in passion every day; now every second day; then every third, then every fourth. But if you have intermitted thirty days, make a sacrifice to God. For the habit at first begins to be weakened, and then is completely destroyed. ‘I have not been vexed today, nor the day after, nor yet on any succeeding day during two or three months; but I took care when some exciting things happened.’ Be assured that you are in a good way.” —Epictetus, Discourses 2.18

Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “A bold, fierce, and threatening countenance, as pale as ashes, and, in the same moment, as red as blood; a glaring eye, a wrinkled brow, violent motions, the hands restless and perpetually in action, wringing and menacing, snapping of the joints, stamping with the feet, the hair starting, trembling lips, a forced and squeaking voice; the speech false and broken, deep and frequent sighs, and ghastly looks; the veins swell, the heart pants, the knees knock… neither is anger a bare resemblance only of madness, but many times an irrevocable transition into the thing itself…. It is therefore to be avoided, not only for moderation’s sake, but also for health.” —Seneca (who goes on to astutely note that anger is often harder on a person than whatever injury they are angry about in the first place)
  • “It were endless to dispute upon every thing that is disputable. A vindictive temper is not only uneasy to others, but to them that have it.” ―William Penn
  • “Seneca, a wise man from Rome, said that when you want to escape from your rage, when you feel that it grows, the best thing to do is to stop. Do not do anything: do not walk, do not move, do not speak. If your body or your tongue moves at this moment, then your rage will grow. Rage is very harmful for all people, but it is most harmful for the man who experiences it.” — Tolstoy
  • “How much more harmful are the consequences of anger and grief than the circumstances that aroused them in us!” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 1.18