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How to Make Yourself Happy by Letting go of Anger

Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice - Stephen Covey

Have you ever noticed how some people get angry all the time?

It’s normal and natural to experience occasional angry feelings. But, if you can’t control anger and you let anger control you, you will never learn the secret of how to make yourself happy.

Surprisingly anger, like happiness, is a choice. You have far more control over letting go of anger and making yourself happy than you realise.

No one can make you angry without your permission

Isn’t it surprising that two people can find themselves in the same situation and yet have different responses? Two drivers stuck in slow moving traffic may react in completely different ways.

John is huffing and puffing, muttering angry words to himself under his breath, berating the traffic lights, road works, council, government or other drivers as his heart rate goes up and he begins to feel a headache coming on.

Bob, on the other hand, has opened the sun roof, put on a CD and uses the time to think about a presentation he will give to his team at work tomorrow.

If you want to make yourself happy, you have to learn to let go of anger and the notion that anyone or any situation can make you angry.

A happy person has found the secret of noticing the angry emotion and using it as an energy to becoming proactive in a situation. Sometimes harnessing the power of anger constructively, means you can take action to resolve problems or make changes. Anger can be a positive energy if you act with emotional intelligence.

React or respond?

The key to staying happy rather than angry is to notice your choice of response.

If you merely react angrily to a situation, you are operating from that older fight or flight part of the brain. It’s a bit like having a monkey sitting at the keyboard of your internal computer, processing incoming information and only seeing two responses…fight or run away.

Much better to have the neocortex or more highly evolved rational human brain making the decisions.

Trouble is, all incoming information goes to the monkey brain first and it takes time to allow for that information to be sent across to the rational brain. That’s why time is the real key to responding appropriately to trigger situations.

Press the pause button

Delay your reaction so that it becomes your chosen response by buying yourself time.

Learning how to press the pause button in your brain will put you back in control and is the essence of mindfulness.

There are so many reasons why you should control anger. Yes, it is an obstacle to happiness, but also damages relationships, loses jobs, can result in people or property getting hurt and, in the end, anger will hurt you too.

Happy people live longer

There are many studies which have now made the link between anger and heart problems. Research continues to grow which seems to show the calmer you are, the happier you are and the longer you live.

Anger is also such a large emotion that it also clouds judgment and sends people into that polarized black or white thinking style. Two angry people in an argument will never back down. They are right, the other person is wrong and there are no areas of grey for negotiation .

So, what can you do to take back control from anger and make the choice to be happy?

4 Tips for anger management

1. Notice the problem

Having awareness that anger management is something you need to work on is the starting point.

If you’re an angry person but do not even recognize it as a problem…..then you have a real problem! Acknowledgment means you can now take action.

2. Keep an anger log

Notice triggers. What sets you off? Is it things people say, or things they do?

How intense was your response on a scale of 1-10?

Try writing down the sequence of events at the end of each day. Really noticing your pattern of response is a great starting point.

3. STOP! the anger pattern repeating itself

Say STOP! to yourself. As soon as you say STOP!, it buys you time to choose your response rather than allowing the emotional knee jerk reaction to get there first.

The acronym STOP stands for:

  • Slow your breathing down
  • Take a psychological step back from the situation…or actually walk away
  • Observe and scale your own level of anger
  • Practice emotional intelligence by slowing down you reaction and allowing the information to get to the rational part of your brain so you have a choice of response.

Learn more about the STOP! System here

4. Tap into innate wisdom.

Since the beginnings of time, human beings have realised they need to control the larger, potentially dangerous emotional responses.

There is a lot to learn from ancient wise stories passed down to us from previous generations…..

A Cherokee story

An old man is sitting round a camp fire with his grandson.

The fire crackles and glows in the fading light as the heat from the fire warms their outstretched hands.

As they gaze into the flickering flames, the old man begins to speak…..

‘My child,’ he says , ‘Inside you, and inside all of us, there is an battle going on between two powerful wolves.’

‘One is an angry wolf, full of jealousy, greed, resentment and all those negative, unhelpful emotions.’

‘The other is the wolf of happiness. He is the wolf of joy and peace, love and hope. He is the wolf of serenity.’

….and the old man gazes quietly and knowingly into the fire.

The young boy, unsettled, after a while asks a question.

‘But grandfather,’ he whispers ‘which wolf will win the battle?’

The old man looks into the eyes of the boy and replies simply…

‘My child, it is the one you feed.’

If you or someone you know suffers from anger, let me know in the comments, and we can start a discussion…

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.