angry is as angry does - southwest conference blog - don fausel

Angry is as Angry Does!

by Donald Fausel

Angry is as Angry Does!

“If you want to learn something, read. If you want to understand something, write. If you want to master something, teach.” I’m not sure who the original author of those wise words was but I accidentally found them in a Chinese fortune cookie. Then not far after my discovery, 1983 to be precise I read a book by Neil Clark Warren, titled Make Anger your Ally. I was impressed by his book, not just because he earned a Master of Divinity from Princeton, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Chicago, but his book was down to earth and made a lot of sense to me. Oh and a more recent version of the original book was published in 1999.

Following the dictum from the Chinese fortune cookie, and the credentials of Dr. Warren, I began to read more about anger,  write commentaries on anger, and a few years later I began to teach courses and workshops on anger. Eventually I realized that anger was another obstacle to living a happier life, and I began to make it a part of my pursuit of happiness commentaries.

As the title of this blog Angry is as Angry Does suggests, it’s not anger that is the problem, our problem is how we cope with the anger that we have, and the anger that others have towards us. Anger affects millions of people. It affects all races, all ages, all religions, all ethnic groups, in essence—everyone!  

In the words of the Dalai Lama, “When people get angry they lose all sense of happiness. Even if they are good-looking and normally peaceful, their faces turn livid and ugly. Anger upsets their physical well-being and disturbs their rest; it destroys their appetite and makes them age prematurely. Happiness, peace, and sleep evade them, and they no longer appreciate people who have helped them and deserve their trust and gratitude. Under the influence of anger, people of normally good character change completely and can no longer be counted on. They are ruined by their anger, and they ruin others too. But anyone who puts all his energy into destroying anger will be happy in this life….”

In order to write this blog I had to go back and review the work I had done on anger some years ago, and bring myself up to date on current research. When I googled Anger and Happiness I was surprised to find how many articles were available. There was even one titled Awaken Your Own Force: 9 Ways Happiness and The Force are One . The author of the article, Jim Smith, was referring to the opening last week of the movie Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I didn’t even know the force had been asleep, since I left off at Episode II. Dr. Smith was kind enough to remind us that in the original Star Wars film, the Force “…is described as an energy field created by all living things that surround and penetrate living beings and binds the galaxy together.”  He goes on to state, “That sounds an awful lot like Happiness, right?”  To prove his point he offers nine ways happiness and the force are one. As an example the number one way they are the same is, both the May the Force be with you, and Happiness are indeed one, since they’re both are “all around you.” I found an another article, Understand Anger: Why Anger Isn’t Irrational which agrees that “Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.”  But it doesn’t identify happiness as force of energy. If you want to read the rest of the ways that force and happiness are the same just click on Dr. Smith’s article above. Or maybe your children or grandchildren can enlighten you.

I also searched for a book from Earnie Larsen, whom I mentioned in my last blog, hoping he would have written a book related to anger.  Sure enough he didn’t disappoint me. The title of his book is From Anger to Forgiveness . Here are a few themes from Larson’s book that I found helpful. He first talks about what he calls The Faces of Anger. These include:

  • Depression: probably the most common face of anger.
  • Smoldering Rage: One symptom is the tendency to take everything personally.
  • The Fidgets: people with behavioral styles that always seem to be tap dancing faster than anyone else. They have very little serenity.
  • Secret Keeper: This person must always look good. They lie about things because they don’t want to spoil their image.
  • Victim: They feel they have no options. Down deep they sense they don’t count—that no one takes them seriously.

For each one of these faces of anger, Larsen provides a story of one of his former clients who had dealt with that particular problem. Without going into details, for an example of Depression, Larsen tells Curt’s story. He describes Curt as being depressed but not dysfunctional, and goes on to show how you don’t have to be dysfunctional to be depressed. In Curt’s case he was very active in his professional activities but at the same time he felt terrible negativity and hostility, and was emotionally flat. The stories are very helpful.

The following YouTube videos are each about 20 minutes long. They both focus on anger and their answers are too long for me to cover in a blog. So here they are. The first one is The Purpose and Importance of Anger and the second titled How to Deal with Anger. I hope both are helpful!

You may also like:

Psychology Today on Anger

Pathway to Happiness

May the Force be With You, and may you have a healthy and happy 2016.