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  • My name is Thomas Dixon and in my opinion, anger is not quite as healthy as some people think it is.

  • When I think of anger, I think of myself losing it.

  • Growling at the radio, shouting at the cat.

  • Feeling homicidal rage towards the person next to me in the quiet carriage on the train eating their crisps noisily.

  • It's not a healthy or happy feeling.

  • For me, anger is a thwarted, tantrum-like howl of protest against the world's inexplicable refusal to cooperate with my perfectly clear wishes.

  • And for that reason it's not something that I think is a great basis for moral or political decisions.

  • Today I know that individual men and especially women are likely to be criticized and perhaps patronized when they express anger in their everyday lives.

  • "Calm down dear," they might be told.

  • But I detect in our culture a rising celebration of anger on all sides.

  • People wearing it as a badge of pride, announcing that they're proud to be angry and that others should be too.

  • I don't buy into any of this.

  • I think there's a real danger that boasting about anger becomes a generalized licence for hate.

  • I'm also afraid that people use the language of anger as thinly-veiled threat of violence.

  • When you hear a politician saying that if a decision doesn't go their way, then they fear there could be civil unrest and public anger.

  • I take it that what they're really saying is: If you don't do what I want then there might be riots and there might be violence.

  • And again, I'm not sure that's a healthy way to conduct political discourse.

  • One of my favourite works written against angry emotions is a book called De Ira, or On Rage, written by the Roman philosopher and stoic Seneca.

  • I think there may be some things that we can still learn from it.

  • For the Stoics, passions were diseases.

  • They weren't just harmless emotions that we should get in touch with and express but they were things that were seriously bad for us.

  • Another central idea that the Stoics gave us about passions and emotions was to think of them as choices.

  • When I think of my own experience for example of anger, I have to confess that there is a moment when I agree to let it happen.

  • I choose to lose it.

  • I allow myself to become enraged and that if we're honest, I think we have to agree with the Stoics that our emotions are choices, even when those feelings do feel quite hard to resist.

  • But for those of us who do want to try and follow in this difficult path and restrain rather than express our anger and outrage, Seneca had some very useful practical tips.

  • People with a bad temper should avoid getting drunk.

  • People should avoid the forum, advocacy, the courts and all pursuits that irritate us.

  • Twitter perhaps or for me The Today Programme.

  • Finally, Seneca advises us always to wait before responding to any perceived injury.

  • He said that the greatest remedy for anger was postponement.

  • And I think that any of us who has ever responded too hastily and in anger to an annoying email from a colleague will appreciate the power of this advice.

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My name is Thomas Dixon and in my opinion, anger is not quite as healthy as some people think it is.

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