Anger isn’t all bad. Here’s how to use it to move forward, even if your career seems to be stalled.
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In their last public opinion survey, the folks at Pew Research Center revealed something readers of this blog know all too well: Americans think young people are getting screwed in the current economy. Business Insider reports:
41 percent of Americans believe that younger adults have been hit harder than any other group, compared with 29 percent who say middle-aged Americans and 24 percent who point to seniors 65 and older. A wide majority of the public — at least 69 percent — also said it’s more difficult for today’s young adults than their parents’ generation to pay for college, find a job, buy a home or save for the future.
Of course, if you’re under 30, it probably isn’t news to you that young people are having a lot harder time getting established than previous generations. In fact, you might even be a little bit (or more than a little bit) angry about it already.
But while a good bitch about the state of things with friends is certainly a healthy way to blow off steam, when it comes to actually moving your career and financial prospects forward getting angry probably isn’t helpful, is it?
Actually, according to a couple of new studies and posts across the blogosphere, anger might actually be useful. Say what?!
While blowing your fuse at your boss is definitely not recommended, nor is using a lack of good options as an excuse for inaction, you can channel your frustration and anger productively (and you don’t even have to be in a boxing ring or mosh pit).
Dutch researchers, for instance, recently demonstrated that a quick burst of anger can actually help up break through barriers and be more creative, at least in the short term. The Freakonomicsblog has an interesting summary of the findings:
Angry people produce a higher volume of ideas, as well as more creative ones than their non-angry counterparts. The study’s authors reason that anger is usually accompanied by a feeling of intense energy and a less-structured style of thinking, two factors that lead to creative forms of brainstorming.
That burst of productivity however is short-lived and ultimately creativity is reduced as a result. The authors found that anger leads to initially higher levels of creativity than sadness, but that anger depletes resources more. As a result creative performance declines over time more for angry people than sad ones.
So, if it’s your job to be creative for long periods of time, better to be sad than angry. But if all you need are short bursts of sporadic creativity, rage away.
If you’re not stick for the solution on a problem that demands creative thinking, that doesn’t mean your occasional feelings of fury can’t be put to good use. As doctor and author Walter E. Jacobson explains in this video, ideally used anger is “a signal device” that let’s us know when we’re threatened and need to act. Rather than turning your anger on others, use it to power you to fight calmly for what you want or as an alert that lets you know you need to step back and take a breather until you can think clearly again.
Do you feel moments of rage over the economy and how it’s affecting your career?
London-based Jessica Stillman blogs about generational issues and trends in the workforce for Inc.com and GigaOM.