Men's Health (Australia) - - MH ESSENTIALS -

QUES­TION What stormy emo­tion helps your heart and clears a cloudy mind?

“MY BE­HAVIOUR WAS UN­AC­CEPT­ABLE,” said master butcher Ja­son Wells in 2015. “I shouldn’t act like that.” Wells was contrite for good rea­son: he had threat­ened to smash a cy­clist’s teeth down his throat af­ter strug­gling to over­take him in his Land Rover. Hel­met-cam­era footage of the al­ter­ca­tion had gone vi­ral, and twowheeled Youtu­bers had car­i­ca­tured him as a snarling “road-rage cham­pion”. In an in­ter­view con­ducted by a cater­ing mag­a­zine not long be­fore, how­ever, Wells comes across as a de­cent, or­di­nary man – a fa­ther of two mo­ti­vated by his “love of fam­ily, food and peo­ple”. What hap­pened was prob­a­bly just a mo­ment of ev­ery­day mad­ness. Countless sci­en­tific re­ports have found that anger can cloud our judg­ment of risk, make us cru­eller and en­cour­age care­less thought. And it’s an ex­tremely com­mon feel­ing: ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gist James Aver­ill of the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts Amherst, “Most peo­ple re­port be­com­ing mildly to mod­er­ately an­gry any­where from sev­eral times a day to sev­eral times a week.”

It’s a re­lief, then, that see­ing red has its uses. A study pub­lished in Health

Psy­chol­ogy showed that vent­ing our anger can help us main­tain our rest­ing blood pres­sure, while sup­press­ing it has been linked to po­ten­tially can­cer-in­duc­ing in­creases in stress. Righteous in­dig­na­tion also aids weight loss by re­duc­ing our ap­petite; in a 2014 study, test sub­jects who were made to feel a sense of in­jus­tice con­sumed fewer snacks than mem­bers of the con­trol group. Their out­rage had pre­sum­ably left be­hind a bad taste.

Most cu­ri­ously of all, a Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia pa­per demon­strated that rage – when it doesn’t over­whelm us – im­proves our abil­ity to process in­for­ma­tion, in­creas­ing our mo­ti­va­tion to “dis­crim­i­nate be­tween weak and strong ar­gu­ments”. Un­der con­trol, it can make us more, not less, ra­tio­nal. So, it’s a mat­ter of ex­tent. Don’t go men­ac­ing cy­clists on the road, but don’t re­sist the urge to re­lease the pres­sure valve now and then, ei­ther. As the Dalai Lama ob­served, “If a hu­man be­ing never shows anger . . . he’s not right in the brain.” AN­SWER Anger

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