This makes me sound like a bit of a Jerky McBoatFace, or at least like someone who’s rarely happy. But I assure you, that’s not the case at all.
My favourite gif in the whole, wide world is this:
(Even though I don’t know a word of German, I think Martina Hill is the most brilliant comedian ever.)
Anger is extremely motivating
Sometimes it gets me out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it gets me from idea to launch. Sometimes it drives me to do better, to create more, to BE better.
To back up for a second, let’s clarify something: there’s a difference between HULK SMASH, off the rails, screaming violent rages and a burning in the gut that makes every fibre of your being ache to change whatever it is you’re mad about.
I get angry at others since I know they can do better (because people are smarter than they sometimes act) and I get angry at myself for the same reason.
I did well in school because I was mad at the other kids that picked on me and wanted to do something better than them. I came up with Creative Class because I was angry that all of zero schools taught people the business of freelancing and loads of talented creative folks didn’t know enough about running a business. I poke at internet marketing and most personal growth articles because I get pissed off that smart people think lazy solutions will fix complicated problems.
Anger is energy
It’s most often thought of as aggressive and awful, but really, that’s not always the case. Anger isn’t simply aggression. In fact, most of the time, anger isn’t expressed as aggression at all.
Bad anger leads to violence, hostility and sometimes worst of all, inaction. It goes against my personal belief in ahimsa (non-violence), and is not ever a road I want to go down. Good anger, on the other hand, works to your benefit because action is attached. It's not violent or aggressive at all. No one is hurt (not even you).
Consider this scenario: you’re pissed off because you don’t have any clients for your business. Nothing changes because you aren’t actually doing anything to change the situation that made you mad in the first place. You do nothing about it, other get more pissed off.
Now consider the same scenario: you’re pissed off because you don’t have any clients for your business. Yet instead of just making you pissed, it lights a fire under your ass and you start hustling by cold-emailing 10 potential leads every morning, refining your pitch and positioning every afternoon and evaluating what worked or didn’t every evening. You’re no longer angry because you’re hard at work moving towards a positive outcome. And more than likely, all that action leads to positive results which you can’t be mad about.
So bad anger, or destructive anger doesn’t get you anywhere. Sometimes it feels safer to stay mad because that means you don’t have to do anything about it. I’ve totally been there.
Anger needs to be acknowledged and acted on, in order for it to be released. This is good anger or constructive anger. We just have to figure out what action best suits us and the situation at hand - and then act.
Anger is a tool
Or it can be. If we use it properly, actually own it and then act on it to affect positive change in our own lives and in the lives of others.
In the end, it’s not about trying to train ourselves to never get mad. That sounds like a recipe for disaster resulting in ripped shirts and green skin.
It’s more about what we do once we get angry and if we take action towards a positive outcome.
Hi, I'm Paul Jarvis. I write a weekly newsletter called the Sunday Dispatches where I share articles about working and living online with 35k subscribers: