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Why we get mad -- and why it's healthy | Ryan Martin

TED Talks Daily

Anger researcher Ryan Martin draws from a career studying what makes people mad to explain some of the cognitive processes behind anger -- and why a healthy dose of it can actually be useful. "Your anger exists in you ... because it offered your ancestors, both human and nonhuman, an evolutionary advantage," he says. "[It's] a powerful and healthy force in your life."

Episode notes last updated on July 15, 2019 07:31


In this episode

Smash Notes summary for this episode

What’s the role of an anger researcher?

As an anger researcher, Ryan Martin spends a good part of his professional and personal life studying why people get mad. He studies the types of thoughts people have when they get mad, and also what people do when they get mad.

How is anger with us during some of the best moments of our lives?

Some examples of anger during the best moments of our lives are when we have special occasions like vacations and weddings. These events are often marred by bad frustrations in the moment, but are ultimately forgotten once things turn out well.

What’s are common themes of anger?

The recipe for anger is provocations that include things that are unpleasant, when they feel unfair, when goals are blocked that could have been avoided, and over things that leave us powerless.

What are some cognitive distortions of anger?

It’s also known as an irrational belief. Angry people tend to put blame where it doesn’t belong, such as inanimate objects. They also tend to overgeneralize and use words like always, never, and every. People will also put their own needs ahead of others.

What is one thing to remember about anger?

Ryan Martin states that our anger exists in us as an emotion because it offered our ancestors both human and non-human with an evolutionary advantages. It’s one way our brains communicate to us that we have had enough. It also energizes us to confront something.

How does anger affect our bodies?

Anger is a part of a pattern of physiological experiences that exists. When we’re mad, our heart rate and breathing increase. We start to sweat, which is our sympathetic nervous system kicking in the energy for us to respond. Our digestion system also slows down to help us conserve energy.

What is some good news about anger?

Unlike our club swinging ancestors, we have the capacity to regulate our emotions. We can channel our anger into something more productive.

How is anger a motivator?

Anger can motivate us to respond to injustice. There are various ways to fix a problem. We have to get mad first, then channel that anger into fighting back, which doesn’t have to be with aggression or hostility.