I was going to write about cognitive dissonance today, but when not one but three references to anger popped up in my email, Tweets and random browsings this morning, I changed my mind and decided to let serendipity choose my topic.
He begins by swatting a mosquito that landed on him minutes after trying a “natural” mosquito spray. At the same time he was angrily reacting to the false claims of the repellent and the mosquito attacks, he was reading these “words of wisdom” by Robert Anton Wilson: “Only optimists get anything done.” Another angry swat at a mosquito proves Wilson wrong: it’s not only optimists that get anything done. Now pessimistic about the mosquito repellent, Slade knows that he has to do something else to keep the mosquitoes at bay. That in turn leads to an optimistic thought: a solution can be found, if he switches on his cooperative, intelligent frontal lobes and uses his brain radar to find one. I’ll let Neil Slade explain to you what he means by that (click the link on his name or the illustration above) or you can read more about it here: The Crazy Wisdom of TDA Lingo.
Next up was a Tweet from the Activist Post that directed me to an article entitled, As America Continues to Tank, What Will You Do? Social activists know a lot about anger and the best of them know a thing or two about anger management, too. This article made reference to a 1973 bestseller by Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World: A Handbook for Personal Liberty. 1973 was a very good year for great books that were largely forgotten in the ensuing years of American gluttony (Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered was another). This is what the article’s author, Anthony Wile had to say about Browne’s book:
It is very easy for all of us to become mesmerized by the blitzkrieg of information that seems to constantly invade our minds. It is so overpowering at times that, without proper discipline, one can find themselves missing out on the joys of life and dwelling only in darkness. And that is not a healthy way to go through life. Harry understood that – better than most.
It’s a great book and I highly recommend it and that’s not just because I’ll get a pittance from Amazon if you purchase it through my links here.
For most of my life, I’ve been of the “anger is bad” school of thought. This began in my twenties, when I was hit on the head by a Peace Bomb that left me completely blissed out. There is no room for anger when you’re in a state like that and it is so superior to normal, everyday consciousness, you can’t help but want to go there again and again. However, anger has served me (and the victims) well here in Cambodia on occasions when I’ve seen “sexpats” behaving atrociously, so I’ve become a believer.
Then I stumbled across an article called Befriending Anger with Meditation and Guided Imagery. Talk about serendipity! This article discussed exactly what I’d been chewing on since my mental journey down the anger path had begun. I’m just going to offer one quote from the article, but urge you to read the whole thing yourself:
Healthy anger is not aggressive, nor is it passive. The formidable center is clear and assertive. It is responsive but not reactionary. Victor Frankl reminds us that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and freedom.” Awareness is key to cultivating that space for choice.
This is what Neil Slade was saying in his Neil Slade way and what I have come to believe to be true about anger. There is a place for it, but it has to be kept in its place. Locking it up in a prison doesn’t work: it will just find a way to make trouble. “Befriending” it does.