Anger, resentment and attitude

Some people say that there are not enough angry people in the world. If only people were angrier we could solve the world’s problems. Perhaps those who want everyone all irate and angry are misusing the the word, but anger by itself rarely accomplishes anything. Sustained anger is destructive, both to the angry person and those around them. In fact, anger is an emotion that makes people incurious, blinded to new information and oblivious to solutions. (For example; look at many of the political rallies in the United States this election cycle.)

Perhaps the people who want more anger mean they want people to be more aware and engaged. That I can agree with. Awareness and engagement breeds communication and action. Anger interferes with communication, creates further division and antagonizes unproductive rounds of even angrier responses. It is not necessary for people to be angry (or unhappy, or depressed) about the world around them to be a positive force. In fact, those emotions act mostly contrary to positive change. There is a reason they say some people are, “blind with anger.”

Anger is what psychologists call “a secondary emotion”. That is, it is an emotion that follows a host of other emotions such as fear, rejection, humiliation or frustration. Anger is used as cover against things that a calm or reasoned mind may be able to overcome, but is not thinking rationally enough to solve the core problems. Sustained anger is the emotion of an immature mind.

Yes, a temporary anger can be a spark that ignites other action. But frequent or sustained anger is destructive. Anger that isn’t followed with productive action only forms a crippling feedback-loop that creates more empty anger. As the Buddhists say, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”




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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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