Anger is a strong emotion triggered by a gap between one’s expectations and the reality of one’s circumstances. Unlike mere frustration, there is usually an element of perceived unfairness, or an unwillingness to accept the circumstances as reasonable or right. Because most of us experience physiological effects of anger—such as an increased heart rate or surge of adrenaline—it suddenly becomes easier to behave in ways we normally wouldn’t, such as raising our voices, slamming doors, or provoking others into a confrontation. Because of this tendency, anger is often labeled as a “bad” or “negative” emotion, but the truth is, emotions are neither good nor bad—they’re just feelings, and trying to deny or suppress any feeling is harmful to our well-being. When handled intentionally, anger can be a source of positive energy and a force for constructive action and change.
Anger plagues all of us on a personal, national, and international level. Yet we see people, such as the Dalai Lama, who have faced circumstances far worse than many of us have faced—including exile, persecution, and the loss of many loved ones—but who do not burn with rage or seek revenge.
Your healthy anger should arise when your sense of self and your idea of how things should be (your boundaries) are challenged or broken. What you do next, and how you re-set your boundaries, determines the outcome for you and for your relationships. Healthy anger can change your life!
In the days of extremism and severely divisive belief systems, learning patience and compassion practices (from the modern master of patience and compassion) is more valuable than ever. All of the world’s major religions emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and tolerance.