Living the Sweet Life: To be or not to be – angry that is!

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized
portrait artist and
award-winning columnist.

Do you remember the last time you got really angry? I mean like blood pressure up and all sweaty and really, really mad? Did you know that anger spreads more virally than any other emotion? Expressing anger is super charging to your psyche, too. It’s not like sadness, fear or love. When you get all worked up, it actually feels good — which is not good for the receiver!

I remember when I was little I would get angry and slam doors. As a teenager, I would yell and argue until I won – or at least I thought I had won. In my twenties, I got a little less angry and a lot less often. By my thirties, I was a seasoned wife and had become a parent, so it was pretty important to me to show some constraint when something tried to set me off. Now in my late forties, I have found that it takes so much more to make me angry than ever before. I wonder if that means I am smarter and totally self-constrained, or as they say in psychology “enlightened.”  Perhaps by not reacting with that fired up passionate anger that I once had I have grown complacent. Which, I would be very disappointed in myself if I found that to be true! I’ll go with the “enlightened” theory.

One thing I do know is that anger has reasons behind it. Certain things are triggers for each of us, and what sets off one person might not even be recognized by another. In that way, anger is not universal. In many cases, though, anger is universal, because there will always be certain things that every human responds to – things that are always no matter how old or young or in whatever time period of your life will make everyone mad. That’s important to solicit change and to grow both as an individual and as a society.

For example, the white rhinoceros has just recently become extinct. Scientists tried to save the species by collecting as much sperm as they could from the last living male. He had to be protected with armed guards day and night in order to not be poached for his horn. Eggs had already been collected from the last living female. Perhaps with science advancements and surrogates there’s still hope that we can reintroduce the species back into our world. How can we as a whole humankind do such a thing? What makes us feel that raping an animal of its horn and leaving it to slowly die alone to not even be used for food is at all okay? What I want to do is find the people that did these things, and do to them what they have done. I am angry. You are angry, too, I suppose.  The same things and reactions can be said of children starving, victims of crimes –  all of the things that could have been avoided if everyone in our world finally learned to just play nice.

Anger, though, that is specific and triggers you and you alone is different. This type of anger happens because there’s an innate personal agenda, and usually it is between family and close friends. Like in those first years when I was married and Brian just did not quite understand that him leaving his clothes on the floor was a direct and purposeful disrespect for our joined living space, or when my college professor thought it would be cute to give me a 98 when I had in fact made a perfect score! The point is that anger is personal. Dealing with that type of anger comes with experience, and time does make all the difference in the world in how we see and perceive. Today I would casually pick up those clothes and not even skip a beat, and that professor would have gotten a very interesting thank you note in his mailbox and not a kiddo storming into his office demanding an explanation for those two little points!

The fire is still there of course; it’s just directed more properly. My Nana, who lived to be 102, could cut you with a smile. She was so quick witted that people often did not understand that she was angry with them until they analyzed what she had said. I love that type of anger, and I hope I get it someday. Then I really will be “enlightened!”

Take Care of YOU!