What is the Optimal Way to be Angry? | Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth on No Stupid Questions

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“Anger is when you have a feeling that your rights have been violated and a goal has been blocked” – Angela Duckworth

Key Takeaways

  • Anger is useful! –but isn’t always channeled usefully
  • Be mindful when angry: Reflect on the possible consequences of your outcomes
  • The most optimal way to deal with anger: Nip it in the bud – don’t wait until you’ve “lost it”
    • 1.  Change your situation (leave the room)
    • 2. Draw your attention to something else (a book)
    • 3. Have a strategy beforehand
  • Anger management advice from Seneca, an ancient Roman stoic:
    • Shift your perspective
    • Try and empathize with the other person
    • Spend time with less angry people
  • Instead of arguing with someone, “list” them
  • Results from a study done at Northeastern University show humans have more sympathy for abuse to children, puppies and dogs than human adults
  • Humans like to matterservice to others (including pets) makes you feel good

Intro

Stephen Dubner (@DubnerStephen) is co-author of the popular Freakonomics book series and host of Freakonomics Radio

Angela Duckworth (@angeladuckw) is a psychologist and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Advice to Keep Centered Amidst Feeling Anger

  • When you have an emotion, decide whether you want that emotion and whether to act on it
  • Usually, you have an emotion then act on it before you can even think about it
  • Be mindful: what are the possible outcomes of my actions?
  • Anger is observed across all cultures
  • Anger is useful! –but isn’t always channeled usefully
  • Expressing anger doesn’t always reduce it, sometimes it increases it
  • “There’s more anger these days than in the past – tech makes it possible for expressing anger immediately” – Angela Duckworth
  • The modern incarnation of anger management is emotion regulation
  • Seneca – an ancient Roman stoic wrote about the detriments of anger and gave advice:
    • Shift your perspective
    • Try and empathize with the other person
    • Spend time with less angry people

Optimal Way to Be Angry

  • Seneca’s advice: Nip your anger in the bud – don’t wait until you’ve “lost it”
  • Try reading poetry when you feel angry
  • Remove yourself from the situation
  • James gross, a psychologist, advised:
    •  1. Change situation (leave room)
    •  2. Draw your attention to something else (a book)
    •  3. Have a strategy beforehand – try to reduce anger preventatively

Dealing with Someone Else’s Anger

  • Instead of arguing – “list” them, repeat what they’ve just said
  • Show appreciation for their argument

Do You Treat Your Dog Better than Humans?

  • “I’m empathetic towards almost every dog, but not any person. I’m guilty of being dog-centric. When I’m cranky on a crowded street, getting annoyed at everyone, I superimpose dog faces on people and then I find I’m empathetic to every person.” – Stephen Dubner
  • “If I pitched a VC idea about pets: they shit and pee everywhere and die before you do giving you great sadness, no one would invest in that idea, they’d say it’s ridiculous” – Angela Duckworth

We Express Greater Sympathy to Victims Who Were Helpless

  • Studies show we are more sympathetic to a story of beings who lacked agency to change their circumstances
  • Results from a study done at Northeastern University shows humans have more sympathy for abuse to children, puppies, and dogs than human adults
  • Its easier to empathize towards dogs than people because people often have agency but dogs are helpless
  • You feel bad for a dog in the rain because it’s innocent when you see a person in the rain, you think what did they do to wind up that way?

Benefits of Dog Ownership

  • Dogs increase owners’ happiness
  • For some, the benefit comes in the simpleness of a pet, who’s always happy to see you and is predictably affectionate and needs to be needed
  • Humans like to matter – service to others makes you feel good!
No Stupid Questions : , , , ,
Notes By EWerbitsky

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