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Angry? Try Gratitude Instead - Here's Why.

Updated: Sep 28


According to a recent Gallop survey, more than half of Americans reported being constantly angry and stressed. The nation's collective negative emotions were considered at an all-time high at this point, and work-related stress is a major contributor.

However, nothing positive or productive comes out of pent-up negativity in a place of business. If you often feel angry at work, here's a novel idea: Try to turn your anger into gratitude.

The Case for Gratitude Instead of Anger

You may wonder: How do gratitude and anger correlate? How does one cancel out the other?

Although the two are on opposite ends of the emotional scale, it's not that difficult to associate anger with gratitude through a careful thought process. Your anger can fester or explode, neither of which is productive. However, anger can be productive if it turns into gratitude through a bit of self-awareness.

When you're angry, your attention is stuck on yourself. You are wrapped around your own feelings.

When you feel grateful, your attention shifts toward engagement with others, which can be especially useful at work. Also, gratitude is a relaxed feeling, which cancels out the stress caused by anger. Ultimately, in order to defuse your anger into something more productive, try to focus on a single goal: finding something to be grateful for in the situation at hand.

How to Show Gratitude When You Are Angry

Getting from angry to grateful is an exercise in self-awareness. The key emotion that bridges the gap between anger and gratitude is empathy.

Since empathy is a learned emotion, you can refine it and increase its impact on your daily life. For instance, instead of getting angry at a coworkers’ who threw away some important documents, take a moment to see the scenario from their perspective. Maybe the co-worker was having a difficult day, and the documents were thrown away by accident. Perhaps your colleague disposed of the paperwork while he cleaned out a messy cabinet in the name of being helpful.

Anger is a direct response to a violation of your own beliefs or a disregard of your feelings. However, when you take yourself out of the situation and look at it from the other person's perspective, your anger is defused. When you look for reasons why your co-worker threw out the important paperwork, you might find gratitude in his efforts to be helpful.

Why Show Gratitude When Someone Wrongs You?

The feeling of gratitude evokes several useful characteristics and emotions:

  • Humility

  • Calm

  • Productivity

  • Compassion

Each of those characteristics are especially useful in business. If your coworkers think you're humble and compassionate, they are more likely to get along with you. If your manager recognizes that you are often calm and engaged, this might result in a promotion.

Showing gratitude is a selfless act, but it can be rewarding for you in the long run. Beyond the professional incentives of gratitude over anger, you can also enjoy a more level-headed disposition in your everyday life.

How Anger Can Be An Agent of Change

Sometimes, anger stems from any injustice you witness on behalf of someone else. For instance, if you feel a co-worker is being mistreated by upper management, you may get angry.

However, even under that circumstance, gratitude can enable your anger to be an agent of change.

Think about it: Passion for activism is born of anger. For example, if your coworker is being discriminated against due to their race or disability, you can turn your anger into activism against the discrimination.

Need More Tips?

Overall, adapting gratitude as a response to your own anger is a useful self-development goal to aspire to. If you're often angry, that's not necessarily a flaw. The key is to solve the problem of anger by allowing it to morph into a kinder feeling.

Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.


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