A person stands at the tumultuous sea's edge under a stormy sky, symbolizing anger. They hold a compass for guidance and a bright red flame for energy. The sea and sky calm towards the horizon, transitioning to a serene landscape with a clear path forward. The palette includes Light Gray for the sky, Dark Gray for the sea, Bright Red for the flame, Yellow for the landscape, and Blue for the calm sea, embodying the transformation of anger into positive action through Stoic philosophy and nonviolent communication.

“Don’t use your anger for this, use it for that!" is the central message of an article in Vox. But if you reject the underlying premise of the article, that other people are the ‘cause’ of our anger, then the rest of it doesn’t make much sense.

You only have to meditate on the first few lines of The Enchiridion by Epictetus to learn that the cause of our emotions is our reactions to, and interpretations of, other people’s actions. Most Stoic philosophers teach the same.

That’s not to say putting into practice any of this is easy. Far from it. That’s why learning about FONT and Nonviolent Communication is important: it gives you an approach and a framework for dealing with situations without escalating them.

People are the root cause of anger. Everyone from romantic partners to leaders of foreign governments — and even ourselves — can make our blood boil. The way anger manifests varies, too. Anger is a punch, a scream, a red face, a silent brood, a river of tears. Anger is selfish (road rage) and selfless (protesting a war half a world away). This prickling, burning emotion — which can range from moderate irritation to complete rage — energizes us to come face-to-face with the wrongdoers, Martin says. When we’re angry, “our sympathetic nervous system activates our fight-or-flight response,” he says. “So our heart rate [is] increasing, our breathing increasing, and so on. That’s all a way to essentially give us the energy we need to fight back.”

There is an effective middle ground where anger can be leveraged to make positive change. When anger’s heat burns brightest is the time to make plans, says Jennifer Lerner, a professor of public policy, management, and decision science at the Harvard Kennedy School who also studies the effects of emotions on decision-making. But wait until the fire dulls to embers to take action.

If you do yearn to act impulsively, Lerner suggests using that energy to complete an item on your idealized wish list of things you hope to do in your spare time. (You know the one: signing up for a volunteer opportunity, picking up trash on your block, apologizing to a friend for forgetting their birthday.) “When you’re mad and you have a few minutes,” Lerner says, “just take something from your list and do it.”

Source: Vox