The word 'happiness' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.

~ Carl Jung ~

Happy Being Mad

September 2nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 6 secs

Happy? Hardly. I’m mad!

How can anyone be happy being mad? Isn’t that a total contradiction? Well “yes” and, err, “no.”

General thinking about being angry would say either it’s good to let it all hang out or, you should get rid of being annoyed altogether. Then and only then can you be truly happy. Let’s consider these for a moment or two.

First, the last: getting rid of being mad completely. Perhaps in a Zen like state nothing will touch your bubble of kharmic contemplation. But for the rest of us, getting angry or annoyed is part of normal life.

Personally, I regard anger as a potentially useful emotion with similar properties to rocket fuel. When something is wrong it has all the energy to energize us to do something good. Yet, have too much of the angry stuff lying around and it’s easy to spontaneously combust.

Being mad at times is really a natural method of regulation. When things aren’t going as you believe they should, anger signals an “error” and potentially motivates us to do something about it. Taken that way, you can be glad you do get mad now and then. Without that mechanism to bring things into a self-determined balance, situations could fall apart even quicker than they do. That’s the good side.

However, too much “grrr” is bound to be bad for you. That’s why being angry is typically harmful to your happiness. Which leads me to the first thought: that we’d be happier if let our anger all pour out. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But does this advice make sense?

Imagine you’re at work and the boss is getting extra flaky. Having already fallen out of bed that morning and trodden on the cat’s tail while spilling your breakfast all over the floor, you’re grumpy as it is. So now, you’ve mad got a mad kind of thing going on inside. Suddenly, at 10.16am you start erupting, spewing out all sorts of vitriol, like a Hawaiian volcano. As you erupt in anger over the lousy pay you get, the poor conditions you put up with, and the terrible state of the washroom, your colleagues stand silently around you, trout-mouthed. Finally, having got it all off your chest and let it all hang out, you draw breath. What would that achieve? Well you get to speak your mind. But is it really worth losing your job by lunchtime and earning a reputation as a whining grumbler?

Life is socially too complex to allow any of us to flop the lot out on the table and think we’re doing ourselves a favor. To be happy we need to have good reasons to live plus good ways to relate. Can you be angry and happy? Sure. But only if anger’s potent emotion doesn’t consume us.  Happiness is far from a free for all state. Quite the contrary. For happiness to last we need to develop our personal qualities and also the purpose to balance impulse with dignity.


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