Anger Has a Place, But So Does Joy

A while back, Laurie suggested that I watch Pink Ribbons, Inc. and it's been on my list of movies to buy. It turns out that sometimes, when you lollygag long enough, really good things happen. Last week, she posted this news: The National Film Board of Canada is currently offering the movie as a free download. All you have to do is answer a short survey before the download and after watching the movie. So naturally, I signed up. And it is an amazing movie. One that will open your mind, make you think and quite likely change how you act.

After watching it, I called to tell my mother about it, hoping to encourage her to watch it herself. I was so revved up that I went on at some length and subsequently, she may not have to watch it after all. A-hem. She asked me if I felt sick inside, because that's so often the reaction to documentaries, isn't it? I told her that I didn't, because Pink Ribbons, Inc. manages to do that rare thing of making you angry and at the same time, not only giving you something to do with that anger, but also weaving in optimism. Go get it. You won't regret it. PS: be patient - it might take a day or two to get the download link after you answer the first survey. And a tip - download in the late evening or you may not be able to access it.

During one of the interviews, a woman (who I think is named Barbara Brenner) mentioned how people tend to say "anger isn't helpful." And it made me think. Because I've heard that message, too, as a person with RA, but even more so as a person with a disability. People aren't comfortable with the sick or disabled being angry. It goes against the stereotype of quiet and brave suffering and the requirement to be a good little cripple. Because people who are angry tend to demand things and that might mean you have to change the way you provide services like health care or have to spend money to make your workplace accessible. So anger isn't seen as helpful, but as Ms. Brenner says in Pink Ribbons, Inc., "it depends what you do with it."

Anger doesn't necessarily mean negativity. Anger can be the fuel that gets you out there and fight for change. Anger about unfairness and injustice is what connects you to other people and together, you make the world more tolerant, more accessible and more inclusive. As Ms. Brenner also mentioned, movements such as Women's Lib or the civil rights movement, have managed to use anger constructively and still include optimism and joy. And that's the key right there, isn't it? To make sure that you don't get stock in a one-dimensional state of being. To focus on using those feelings — be they anger or joy — in a constructive way. Anger on its own doesn't accomplish anything. Anger not channeled into effective and constructive working for change just makes your life dark and negative. And anger unbalanced by joy makes your whole life unbalanced.

Which leads me to this little thing I've started doing. About a month ago, Cathy posted this image on Facebook.

I promptly shared it, but instead of moving on and forgetting about it — as is the case with so many things on Facebook — this one kept rattling in my head. When your life is filled with challenges and your health is not the best, the dark can take over. Finding a way to deliberately focus on joy, even for just a moment, can mean the difference between drowning and not. So every day, I post #todaysjoy on my Facebook page, sharing something that gave me a moment of joy. I'm taking it to Twitter, too, just as soon as I get enough energy back to tweet regularly.

Will you join me?


Anonymous said…
Great blog Lene, I needed this right now. :)
Wren said…
Posting and talking and sharing joy is healing for everyone involved, particularly the sharer. I used to write about the things that made me feel joyful frequently, but I've had a much harder time doing that for the last couple of years. Your post made me stop and think about that, Lene, which is a good thing. I need to make a little more effort to notice the gifts life offers, if only I take the time to see--even now, when it sometimes seems that all the gifts have gone away.

Anyway, thank you. And I'll check out that link to the movie. Anger can be good. ;o)
Carrie Beth said…
I haven't seen Pink Ribbons but have heard much about it.One thing ai worked very hard at long ago was finding a way to use emotions besides anger to deal with life. I inherited my father's anger streak and I realized that the only thing my anger did was hurt me. It wasn't productive, I couldnt turn it into anything, so I worked for years to let it go completely. It takes A LOT now to even get me on the edge of anger. I feel frustration, I feel let down, I feel many other emotions besides anger when things happen now but I seem to be able to channel those all into something more positive where as with anger, I could do nothing but sit in my own "pot" and "stew". As for your idea of "todays joy", we do something very similar in our family and it's been a long standing tradition. At the end of every day we think about the days events and come up with at least one "happy moment" where, for just a minute or so, everything seemed to disappear except for the joy and happiness of that moment in time. it could be time with a loved one, something someone said or did...anything really but there's always one. When I married my husband I started the tradition with him and we continue the ritual every night with each of us talking about our happy moment or moments for the day. It's a beautiful way to clear your mind and remember the good things of the day right before falling asleep. I've also shared this idea in my blog with others hoping it would catch on as well. Sometime on my Facebook page you may see me say, "This is my happy moment for the day.." When I do, now you know what i'm referring to. :)
AlisonH said…
A joy a day. Noticing it so it becomes ever more present. Cool! Thank you for the reminder!