When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred. – Thomas Jefferson


Anger is an emotion most of us have, but it is nothing to be proud of. Despite the fact that it is a natural emotion, one needs to know that anger can cause more problems and fewer or no fixes to a particular situation. Many of us might hear “sorry” after a person was angry earlier. It only shows that staying angry does not do any good, especially when you have to apologize for wrongful behavior. In this regard, Thomas Jefferson states a quote “When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred”.

Thomas Jefferson

About Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President of the United States who served the term between 1801 to 1809. Previously, he remained as the 2nd Vice President of the United States. One of the major contributions of Thomas Jefferson toward America is that he was the primary author of the United States Declaration of Independence. In fact, much of his efforts led to the awareness of individualism, getting free from British colonization, and forming a new nation. He was always focused on following the democratic policies as well as the following republicanism. 

Jefferson was always an active politician which was essential, particularly because America had recently gained independence. He also focused on providing religious freedom and peace to all nations. He went to act against strict British Trade Policies and promoted Western Expansionist Policy. While he faced several difficulties, he always remained calm in his actions. His only call was to stand up with action rather than wrongful anger. This is one reason why the quote associated with him also becomes quite significant. 

Thomas Jefferson in 1800

Origin of this Quote

Thomas Jefferson was known for his sayings on how to have a better personal life. The exact date that this quote was said is not known. However, it is known that he sent a list of personal conduct advice to his children and grandchildren. The quote was extracted from that list in which other such quotes can also be found. Thomas Jefferson used many opportunities to counsel his kids, grandkids, etc., on matters of personality and conduct. He compiled a collection of principles for personal behavior over time. Some appear to be his own creations, while others appear to be based on historical or literary sources.

The list Jefferson sent to Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, his granddaughter, while she was accompanying her elder sister and brother-in-law, is the most comprehensive list of principles. He sent other lists (but shorter versions) to his other children and grandchildren, but this one sent to Cornelia Jefferson is the most detailed and is the primary source of most of Jefferson’s sayings.

Meaning of This Quote

The message conveyed in this quote is quite an interesting one. There are several themes highlighted below. 

Impulsive Decisions and Control 

The most important lesson given in this quote is to not make any kind of impulsive and immediate judgments, reactions, or actions based on what you may have heard or seen in the form of someone’s actions. Instead, a person should cool down first and then think about it. Many people ruin things when they are angry and later on realize their mistake. At this moment, they apologize. 

Apologizing is not wrong. However, a consistent habit of getting angry and making impulsive reactions and judgments at a particular moment and apologizing, later on, is wrong. Thomas Jefferson emphasizes the fact that if you are angry, you should count to ten before you speak. This means that in the state of anger, a person is most vulnerable. He can say things that he will regret later on. He can do actions that will cause him the most problems later on. Therefore, learn to control your anger for a while and focus on the long-term aspect. Eventually, you will see a way out of it. 

Similarly, if you are really angry, you should step out of the situation for an even longer time. Take some time to think, stay alone, and cool down yourself. Ultimately, you will also see your mind making better decisions for all types of personal relationships.

self control

Anger is Worst

Some believe that anger is a vice and emotion that everyone has but it is far worse than being just a common problem. People these days don’t have a lot of control over their anger and emotions. Anger is no longer considered wrong these days, rather people find an excuse to justify their anger. 

For example, if a person is upset over something from his friend, he might just be angry with him and be mad about it when he could communicate the problem to him in an easy way. Many people ask what should a person do when the other person is repeatedly doing the actions which cause anger. It’s simple. Leave them. The reason behind this simple option is that either way, things are going to go down the road. 

If you get angry with a person, you will eventually be breaking or cracking the bond that you guys shared. Eventually, if this happens repeatedly, two people will eventually break up no matter what the relationship was. Therefore, it is better to not bother yourself with repeated angry moments. Just leave the company of the person as soon as you realize that repeated arguments are also not doing anything good. 

We can take the example of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard who had a divorce settlement that reached the courts. The issue was based on multiple allegations, and different types of domestic violence problems and anger were noticed in the case. This just shows that one who did not leave the spot at the right time had to face major consequences later on. Therefore, understand anger, understand when it is right or wrong, and then come up with a decision. 

An angry woman


One of the most important lessons given in this quote is about forgiveness. This quote by Thomas Jefferson urges us to forgive or stay silent for the time but not be angry in any case. As it says “When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred”. This clearly means that you should be forgiving towards others. This will eventually also make it easier for you to ignore the wrongdoings of others. Even if people will try to make you angry, and you will present yourself as calm, it will be helpful for you. Eventually, you will get used-to to not being angry and forgiving others while others will also not try to make you angry. Thomas Jefferson insists that all other alternatives to anger should be focused on. 

You Damage Your Own Self

When you are angry, you should think (count to ten) before you speak. Why? Because if you don’t, you will be damaging yourself. You will be emotionally exhausted and upset while the other person may not care as much about you. Being angry will not cause the other person any harm while you will be upset, mad, and may even go sick out of the situation. Different types of psychological problems evolve in people who get angry frequently. Anger does not do any benefit. Neither does it improve the situation, nor does it fix up things. However, one thing it does for sure is that it damages the person, his personality, his self-respect, and other such aspects too. 


From the different ideologies and themes highlighted above, one can evaluate the fact that anger is a bad virtue and Thomas Jefferson has explained in a really nice way how one can avoid anger and anger-related problems. One thing a person needs to keep in mind is that anger is not good in any way. Even if a person believes it is a way to let out yourself, it should not be the way to let yourself out. Instead, you should stay alone, in a silent space, and cool down your mind to think about it all before coming up with a conclusion. Quotes by Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi also teach us similar lessons.


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