We often hear about the temperature of the planet rising due to climate change. But what about the country’s rising emotional temperature?
A recent survey on American rage showed that 68 percent — that's two of every three people — got angry at least once a day because of something they either heard about or read in the news. In fact, a majority of Americans are angrier than they were a year ago, often because of disappointments and frustrations.
In a world where things feel out of control, anger might offer a sense of control and a feeling of self-righteousness. But daily episodes of anger produce unhealthy chronic stress that damages the body, strains careers, and alienates those you care about.
If anger seems like an irrational choice, it is. That’s because it literally hijacks the rational and thinking part of the brain. To protect us against danger, the brain quickly responds to fear and even perceived threats by activating the body’s fight-or-flight stress response. This causes your body and brain to be flooded with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. But when cortisol remains in the body two or more days, it affects the body’s immune system by reducing its T-cell count, impairing memory, and reducing Natural Killer (NK) cells that fight viruses and even some kinds of tumors.
But this doesn't mean that all anger is bad or that it needs to be eliminated. Rather, it's important to understand what's behind the anger.
Fortunately, there are new methods for transforming anger through using mindfulness and cognitive reappraisal. Scientists are now learning that the very process of looking inward and naming your emotions actually calms down and inhibits the stress response.
Here are five mindful steps to transform and shift your anger in ways that are healthier and more enriching: