If you type “angriest” into Google, you’ll get: “Angriest Man in Brooklyn” (a 2014 Robin Williams movie); “Angriest Dog in the World” (a comic strip by David Lynch, creator/writer of “Twin Peaks”); and Angriest Whopper (a fast-food burger with a bright red bun).
Clearly, people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do about (and with) anger.
And that's not surprising, because it's an intense emotion, unleashing a cascade of hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol, both of which stimulate action and, if chronic, cause disease-promoting inflammation.
Recently, researchers wanted to find out how anger and its sort-of opposite, sadness, affect the health of people ages 59 to 79, as well as those who are 80-plus.
Their study, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, found that if you're chronically angry at 80 or older, you're setting yourself up for serious health woes.
But anger in 59- to 79-year-olds could serve as fuel for positive changes in habits or circumstances (although sometimes not).
Sadness did not stimulate inflammation (they measured it), and they conjecture that it lets folks recognize and deal with what they've lost over time.
Our takeaway? At any age, you want to manage anger so that it fuels smart action by doing mindful meditation, anger-dispersing exercise, and finding someone to talk with about your feelings.
Sadness may be justified, but if it fuels depression, then it too should be addressed with therapy and by helping others through volunteering.