Less anger, better mental health. (Oh, and the world might be a better place!)

by on 11th February 2019
Less  anger, better mental health. (Oh, and the world might be a better place!)

There’s seems to be a lot going on in our world today to get angry about — and we’re not talking here about waiting in line to get an overpriced latte from a disinterested and inexperienced barista.

Anger and division on matters of politics, race, sex, religion, education, culture, to name but a few are expressed so freely across social media these days we can feel swept up in the emotion, compelled to take our own stand and join our angry voice with others.

Surely, the unfairness and injustices; the horrors we see and read about all too easily from places far and close via constant exposure to news, comment, opinion and rumour, demand we rage against the machine — we use our anger to right wrongs and batter our opponent into submission.

As a former psychologist, I was comfortable in understanding the "usefulness” of anger to release emotion, to drive change. I also knew well its destructive force. But then, later, as a publisher, I was challenged by noted Australian clinical psychologist Ross Menzies when he introduced me to fellow psychologist Steven Laurent and the work they had been doing on anger.

What they presented was a radical idea — that anger is rarely a compelling force for good, no matter what the cause. That’s its destructive effects are much more toxic to ourselves as well as others than previously acknowledged. That we hold an irrational mindset when we are angry that blinds us to the self-righteous judgements propelling our behaviour in all the wrong ways.

They came to that conclusion after an exhaustive review of research on the psychology of anger that revealed much of what we assumed about anger suffered from limited theoretical or empirical support.

Life without anger is indeed possible and preferable Steven and Ross say and would make ourselves and the people around us happier. We just need to learn a lot more about anger, its uses, its origins, and how we might substitute empathy and understanding in its place.

Their ground-breaking book, The Anger Fallacy: Uncovering the Irrationality of the Angry Mindset, was released a couple of years ago and continues to have an impact. Just reading the book has been shown by research to be an effective aid in therapy with anger management issues.

Yet this is not a heavy book of exercises and lists. It is an absolute joy to read, keeps you thinking from start to finish, challenges and amuses in equal parts and I believe has the power to make a difference in the world.

I know I published it, but as each year passes and I see the effects of anger on people and society, I hope that the message of this little book can make a small change for good. I honestly highly recommend it to everyone I come across. It makes you think, to consider, to maybe try to not spread the madness of anger.

Maybe, if we all tried our hardest to live without anger, the world would be a better place. I’m not saying it is easy, or indeed that we will not get angry about some things, but what this book shows is that the quicker we can replace anger with more rational thoughts, the more effective and happy we can all be.

The Anger Fallacy - featuring the wisdom and wit of Confucius, The Bible, Yoda, Billy Connolly, George Bernard Shaw, Jerry Seinfeld, Dale Carnegie, Ricky Gervais, Larry David, and many more.