Thought Ripples: Living with Anger

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout this week with its theme of Anger, I’ve done my best to dismiss thoughts dealing with anger. I’ve been striving for years to overcome anger with its instantaneous reactions. To deliberately contemplate the subject while trying to enjoy a week or so away from home was not an enjoyable goal.

I could, with a twist of thought, contemplate how various people use anger to their advantage. This pursuit could yield effective methods for my own use. I sifted through several media offerings and learned new information, strategies, and new reasoning.

From Margaret Heffernan, author and entrepreneur, I learned of Dr. Alice Stewart, the medical epidemiologist who discovered that children in England who died of cancer in the 1950’s were twice as likely to have mothers who’d been x-rayed while pregnant with them. From a researcher’s viewpoint, that’s a hugely significant statistic. For all that ratio’s importance, the medical profession of the day repudiated her findings.

Instead of railing against the professional snub and career downer, Stewart refused to back down. She stood by her findings and continued to work on that problem and others. A decade later, the medical world finally accepted her findings and swallowed their guilt at having argued against them for so long.

After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, Becci Manson, a photograph restoration specialist, volunteered to go to Japan to help in the relief effort. One of the types of personal possessions that were collected for reclamation was family photographs. She was overwhelmed by the emotional response of those finding those small reminders of life before the devastation.

Manson channeled her emotions into a network of specialists from all over the world who could take the photos, restore them to their previous condition visually, and send them back to the owners. She came to understand that her sense of frustration could restore some semblance of the past for the victims of the disaster, and that’s where she placed her energies.

Educator Stephen Ritz of the South Bronx didn’t like what he was seeing in his classroom. Disengaged kids from low-income families, looking at dismal futures, and who cared little for being in school, started at him each day, silently asking him a question. What’s in it for me?

Ritz turned his anger sidewise and designed a program for his students that taught them how to grow healthy foods in their local environment. From there he went on to teach the neighborhood, and then the burrow, and then moved out to other cities and states. He snagged politicians, other educators, and anyone else he could find, who would listen to his ideas about teaching people how to feed themselves in order to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

Ritz’s frustration and concern fueled an effort that now affects enterprises, jobs, food distribution and more in the South Bronx and beyond. His emotions found a fruitful channel and made a difference. His determination to help his students has gone viral.

All of these individuals have touched the lives of more people than they’ll ever know. Anger’s child, frustration, became a motivator, a doer, transforming a negative into a positive. With these kinds of examples of motivation before me, my only question became: how can I channel my frustrations to better use?

The answer to that question is at the end of my next search.

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