Anger is a destructive emotion, and the primary victim of the destruction is the person who is angry. If you pay attention to the news (or Facebook) you would believe that we are in an angry world, but we are not. Anger is flash and anger attracts cameras, but it is an inaccurate snapshot of the world around us. As much as we may think focusing our anger on the destruction of people, institutions, or ideas will bring us happiness, that is not the case. All emotions, including anger, are within our control.
So, what is the antidote to anger? I think the Buddhist philosophy has some insight. We can gain peace (which allows us to focus our energy into making the world a better place) from anger, and gain freedom in the act. Freedom from our lives being controlled by an emotion, something that is hollow, empty, and has no solid existence. We enslave ourselves to others and waste our time on earth by being angry. Negative emotions pull us down and prevent us from being who we want to be.
One way to interact with negative emotions is to find the antidote. Instead of anger towards someone we can try and learn, appreciate, and love them. This requires us to see them as multi-dimensional people who have redeeming qualities, it forces us to stop looking at them as “the other” and recognize that they are also doing the best they can. Or maybe, it means removing people from our lives that make us angry. It is possible that some people are so poisonous that they require amputation, though this just pushes our problem of anger down the road instead of giving us the strength to fight it. Anger can also be destroyed when we recognize that the ideas or institutions that enrage us are beyond our control. We can’t stop any politician from saying the things they want to say or believing the things that they can believe. Being angry at Clinton or Trump is just as effective as being angry at the moon’s presence in the sky. It is beyond our control and we only harm ourselves by dwelling on these things.
Life is beautiful, but short. Our ephemeral existence should not be wasted on the ugliness in this world.