These days, we’re constantly being told we should be calming down, drinking herbal teas, doing yoga, that sort of anti-anger thing.
But while we obviously acknowledge these things have their benefits, we also wonder if a little bit of rage is always a bad thing.
Take this week’s headlines about the bank customer who single-handedly chased down and grounded an armed robber, because the assailant “got him in the wrong mood”.
What would have happened if this fury-ridden hero had simply decided to close his eyes and count to 10 instead? Potentially, a fatal crime.
And while the following points might not directly save people’s lives or win you a police bravery award, they do point out that irritation is not always an irritant…
It makes you healthier (ish)
Being angry is not a winner in the health stakes - recent figures from Harvard School of Public Health said that in the two hours after an angry outburst, the risk of a heart attack increased nearly five-fold and the risk of a stroke rose by more than three times.
It also increases blood pressure, blood sugar and stress hormones. But… acknowledging you’re angry rather than bottling it up can apparently lower stress on the heart and helps reduce depression.
It motivates you
A scientific study a few years ago presented a group of people with objects that represented a reward – the half of the group who’d been shown angry faces beforehand craved that reward more than those who hadn’t been.
So being angry – or at least being around anger – can apparently spur you on to reach your goals.
It makes you nicer
Internalising anger in a close relationship is essentially dooming it to failure. Because while regular sniping at your loved one is never the road to domestic bliss, neither is never sniping at all.
The reason is basic common sense; if you don’t tell someone what they’re doing that’s annoying you, they’ll keep doing it and annoy you ever more. So opt for a polite pointer at the beginning of any irritating habit, rather than a not-so-polite tirade a year later…
It gets your priorities straight
What is it that irks you? What makes the bile creep up from deep inside until you can barely even see straight? Rather than viewing whatever it is as an object of hate, why not use it as an object you could try and improve.
If your boss micro-managing you makes you want to scream, why not take the hint and get a new job. If you scowl every time someone is on ‘your’ treadmill at the gym, why not use it as a push to get outside and run in the sunshine instead? In short, get mad, then get even.
It makes you happy
This sounds odd, but bear with us. Researchers from Spain discovered the physiological changes prompted by feeling angry increase blood flow to the area of the brain that also signals happiness (in men, anyway).
They argue this positive reaction is because being angry focuses us on a problem we then want to resolve, thus removing the cause for said anger in the first place.
It makes you successful
We’d like to say that playing nicely wins over playing dirty, but sadly it’s just not true. A study from Harvard discovered that people who keep their frustrations under control are at least three times more likely to have disappointing personal lives and to stall in their career.
But before you take this as a cue to hurl the tea tray to the floor and demand a pay rise, the experts do point out that for career improvement, such anger must be let out in a “constructive manner”.