But anger—what we feel when we think something is unjust and we believe we have the ability to change it—can be highly motivating in certain circumstances. It can make us take action to create change, and even help others in some cases. And so psychologists say it’s sometimes beneficial to boost it. We just have to do it very carefully.
.. Anger is what psychologists call an “approach” emotion—it makes us move toward or attack something. It can help us tackle problems, such as when we get mad about something political and rally to a cause. And getting mad before a negotiation, competition or sporting event can fire us up. That’s why coaches trash talk rivals.
.. Research shows that expressing anger in a negotiation works better if you are a superior or equal to the other person, not when you are the one with lower status. Also, some people will be intimidated by it and shut down. Others may fight back. You can pay attention to past experience, says Maya Tamir, a professor of psychology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “If you’ve learned that when you are angry with a certain person you are more likely to get what you want, then use that knowledge.”
.. The point isn’t simply to express your anger—to yell at your neighbor because his dog barks incessantly. That isn’t beneficial. You want to decide what will make the situation better and use your anger to help you reach that goal.
.. Ruminate. It’s a pretty reliable way to boost your anger. And listen to aggressive music. Researchers use heavy metal when they want to make people angry.
.. Avoid anger if you want to be creative. “Anger narrows our focus,” Dr. Schweitzer says. “It doesn’t allow us to use our minds in a free-flowing way and to think expansively.” If you’re trying to accomplish a creative task or think big, try to minimize your anger by distracting yourself. Read a funny book, watch a comedy, go exercise.