Are people angrier now than they used to be? Or are we simply less angry in retirement and notice others more now?
Anger is a compound matter. Once you’re angry everything is seen through the angry lens. The angrier you get the more you find things to be angry about. Every situation has two (or more) angles and choosing the angry negative side adds to the anger escalation. I think people can string enough anger together to be angry for life. How sad; it’s like they wake up and choose anger. Unfortunately, anger is contagious and it rubs off to others. A downward domino effect.
Anger manifests in different ways. Driving for example. There are a lot of angry drivers out there nowadays. They tailgate impatiently until they’ve had enough. Then they swerve erratically to get around only to be stuck in the same place one lane over. Now they’re even angrier. More careless driving manoeuvres. Same results. When these drivers find other angry drivers in their path it’s a recipe for disaster. An angry driver who is being tailgated for example, will drive aggressively to ensure the tailgater is more frustrated. Speeding up when he’s trying to pass. Narrowing the gap between cars to prevent a merge. It’s scary to watch.
Parking lots is another scary zone for anger observers. The same angry drivers are so wound up by the time they hit the parking lot their patience is paper thin. If the parking lot is busy and congested it’s even worse. I recently watched a video showing a parking lot smack down between two women. Anger has no prejudice.
Inside the store the angry parkers are pushing their buggies recklessly. Scowling. Reprimanding their kids in some cases. By the time you catch up to them at the checkout they are flush with anger and their kids are wild. The anger has transferred and manifests at the point of the store where temptation runs high. The candy filled check out funnel. Just stand back and watch the show.
I’ve met the angry people everywhere. Work. Play (angry pickleball people are often shunned). Rest.
I have a theory that pain causes anger. Pain evokes a negative response which can be in the form of anger. No one jumps with glee after stubbing their toe, for example. Emotional pain also causes anger. Carol at pickleball says that when she’s feeling sad she goes for a walk with a smile on her face. At first she has to fake the smile but after an hour of forced smiling it sticks. She thinks it’s counter productive to be around loved ones when you’re sad since you suck them in too. I thought that was a great reaction. She lost her longtime spouse to cancer a few years ago. She’s sad that he’s gone and angry that she’s alone in her golden years. I think she’s wise.
At yoga there’s a “happy baby” pose. Our teacher does this pose at the end of the practice right before savasana. Basically you’re on your back feet in the air and your holding your feet. She tells us to rock side to side like a baby. And smile. She will also add “remember how carefree and joyful you were as you smile and enjoy the pose”. Same theory: smiling makes you happy.
It could be the hormones: there are four happiness hormones and ways to trigger them
If anger is a choice then happiness should be, too. What a concept.
If anger is contagious then happiness should be too. Wow.
I admit, I have a lot to be happy about. I’m joyfully married to the love of my life. We have a wonderful existence with our girl Molly and our family. We are healthy. We are active. We are grateful.
I Choose happy.