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The upside of anger.


The Upside of Anger

We tend to think of our emotions such as fury, sadness or guilt, as something to avoid at all costs. But research finds that negative feelings, fury including with regard to, also have an upside.

Putting your negative feelings to good employ.

All feelings are useful, even the ones we tend to think of as negative such as rage, shame, or sadness. Embarrassment can be thought of as an early warning sign of humiliation, and signals you’ve made a mistake and maybe need to make a behavioural correction. Guilt can indicate you’ve violated your personal ethical code. And few would deny the importance of learning to sit with sadness, especially when you’re grieve or coping with disappointment.

In 2015, I attended the’ Happiness and Its Causes’ seminar at Luna Park in Sydney. I was lucky enough to meet and interview a few interesting authors including Gretchen Rubin( The Happiness Project) and Ruby Wax( Oxford Neuro-grad (!!) and comedian who somehow ended up interviewing me instead ).

I also chatted to Robert Biswas –Diener, whom person once called the’ Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology ‘. He told a captivating tale about travelling to a small village in northern Greenland on a research trip. The first day there he faced terror( his barge nearly capsized in icy water ), he was cold, wet and hungry, had to hunt for his own food( then kill, cook and eat it ), faced humiliation at his lack of hunting skills and was laughed and taunted by the village infants. He says it was the BEST day of his life!

My boys loved Rob’s story when I recounted it to them, and I think it has plenty of lessons for adults too. Much of his research is on comfort addiction — how our modern day lives leave us little room for inconvenience or negative emotions. How we tend to think of our emotions such as fury, sadness or guilt, as something to avoid at all costs … that we should strive for happiness, only.

But Rob has indicated that negative feelings, fury in particular, also have an upside,

“All emotional state have their place. Trying to shoot for 100 percent happiness is unrealistic .”

Simply put, people who are able to use the whole scope of their natural psychological gifts- those folks who are comfortable with being both positive and negative are the healthiest, and often the most successful, ”

Professor Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist who studies emotions, agrees. She believes there’s an important role for our darker side. In a recent interview with ABC’s All in the Mindprogram she says,

“There is no emotion that needs to forever be banished. What’s most useful about negative emotions is that when they are really fitting the current circumstance.

If you are experiencing some injustice, indignation is very useful for energising our response to that injustice. If we are facing a loss, then sadness is fully appropriate.”

How anger can be a force for good

Although it’s often associated with abuse or lashing out, indignation can be important, and research finds that anger can be a force-out for good.

Anger motivates you into action, especially when you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, or something is blocking your way to accomplishing a goal. Anger sparks creativity. People given the creative brainstorming chore of coming up with as many as possible uses for an everyday object such as a brick, paperclip or chair, perform better when they’re angry than when they are sad or non-emotional. Bottling fury inside is bad for your health. People who bottle up their indignation in response to what they feel is an unjust assault, are more likely to develop bronchitis and heart disease, and are more likely to die earlier than peers who let their rage be known when other people were annoying. Anger increases optimism. People who have been induced to feel mild indignation in the lab take bigger dangers in gambling chores; they’re more inclined to explore the boundaries of potential. Anger makes people feel they have more control over a situation and its outcome, and they’re most optimistic that taking hazards will pay off. Anger focuses your attention. Positive moods causes your intellect to be more open or more likely to’ see the forest’, so to speak, whereas negative feelings( especially anger) cause your mind was most narrowly focused, or more likely to’ find the trees’.

Clearly, letting anger become your dominant emotion is unwise, but the effective expres of anger can be entirely appropriate in the right situation. Biswas-Diener, adds 😛 TAGEND

“Research suggests only ten percent of angry episodes actually lead to some sort of violence, which is evidence anger doesn’t equal aggression.

Anger is neither good nor bad. It’s what you do with it that matters.

Keep checking in with yourself by asking’ Is my fury helping or harming this situation'”

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