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How Anger Can Improve Health, Enhance Intimacy, Spur Creativity, Even Inspire Social Change

In my small town, one of my friends was so angry about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that she created a community ride-share board to lessen our dependence on oil.

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The Dalai Lama takes this idea even further. In Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective, he addresses the often-asked question of how he and his fellow Tibetan Buddhist monks have dealt with the Chinese occupation of their homeland. “Even if there is a likelihood of some feeling of anger arising, we deliberately check ourselves and try to reduce that, and try to deliberately develop a feeling of compassion toward the Chinese.” And so, in the face of the understanding that one’s oppressors are suffering human souls who deserve compassion, all anger disappears.

Fifteen years had passed since I had last seen my ex when I was hired to be a producer-writer for a TV show I love -- at a network where my ex also happened to work. On my first day on the job, knowing I would run into him sooner or later, I decided to avert discomfort and send him a friendly email. He responded by inviting me out for coffee.

At our get-together, he surprised me with a videotape he had made: a compilation of the best moments of Ginger Rogers dancing. “You taught me to see her as well as Fred Astaire,” he offered. I understood that he was saying much more. I felt the weight that this ordinary videotape carried: the weight of apology, of appreciation, of acknowledgement, of respect. Deeply moved, I gratefully accepted his gift. If I had been holding any shred of my old anger toward him, it dissolved in that instant.

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