The Hug Is Mightier Than the Pen

I absolutely cannot afford to be angry. Two people are dependent on my wellness, which in turn depends on refraining from anger. I am most aware of the links between anger and cognitive decline, but the health impacts of anger do not stop there.  As reported by WebMD (which I highly recommend as a health information source):

“When we become angry, a hormone delivery defect may occur. During anger moments, the hormone acetylcholine may not be released to counterbalance the harsh effects of adrenaline. The result seems to cause a nervous system that is constantly working overtime during anger and eventually becomes overexerted leading to a weakened heart, stiffer arteries, liver & kidney damage, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, and an impaired immune system  precipitating various autoimmune diseases.  Some scientists reason that chronic anger may be more dangerous than smoking or obesity as a factor contributing to early death.”

Anger releases the hormone cortisol, which prepares the body for action by raising blood sugar and blood pressure levels, in addition to adjusting the immune system. Action speaks louder than words, both in terms of utilizing the metabolic alterations caused by cortisol and in the traditional meaning of addressing causes of your anger. For too many people their “actions” are words, an ineffective way of utilizing cortisol. Opinionated words preach to the choir, which in turn regurgitates the words, an even less effective way of utilizing cortisol and reducing the health risks.

If you are in a position to implement a plan of real action to address national issues that anger you, by all means do so. Few of us are really in such a position, in which case stay away from the war of words. Do you think that your trusted interest group gives a hoot about your immune system? Do you think that your favorite political pundits care the least bit about your heart troubles? Do you think the loyalists for your party concern themselves with your mental health?

You may point to the words from the “others” as the real cause of anger, but that is true only because of how the words from “yours” condition you. Both “yours” and the “others” concern themselves with cultivating support for their viewpoint, often times by any means possible. Chances are that the angrier “others” make you the more “yours” has misinformed you. This is universally true, not conditionally true for those who hold conflicting viewpoints.

The pen is mightier than the sword. That certainly is true for spreading anger. Venting on national issues, particularly on an Internet forum like Facebook, can be done with more anonymity, more authority (even if unwarranted) and less personal responsibility than addressing local issues. If you think spreading anger for a cause is a good thing, the pen is the way to go.

Ah, but talk and words are cheap if you want to spread kindness or belonging. Kind words can soothe anger to an extent, but do not have the same endorphin nor oxytocin releasing capability as the hug, the smile, the intimacy that humans were born to need. Unlike anger, to spread kindness and wellness you have to act locally. The hug is mightier than the pen.

Food assistance in this country may be a bigger problem than whatever you might be getting angry about. During our walk across the country we were informed that, as wealth disparity has increased for decades, food assistance is now needed by new cross-sections of society: senior citizens taking care of grandchildren, single Dads, graduates with burgeoning student loans that have inflated interest rates, military families and even baby boomers who have been downsized. Voting and funding for food assistance is a practical necessity at the national and state levels, but not a real act of kindness or, at best, a kindness that requires merely the convenience of your vote and taxes.

Getting involved in a community meals program, delivering meals to the needy or establishing a food pantry with a condition of giving back will, in fact, improve your own wellness more than any words of anger, or even any vote of good conscious. Depending on what afflicts you, exchanging the war of words for a soup ladle will improve your immune system, your heart, your joints and/or your mental health.

“ …. chronic anger may be more dangerous than smoking or obesity … “

Whether or not subsequent research confirms that anger is even worse than smoking or obesity, why take the chance? WebMD was referring to personal danger, but the threat is societal as well.  By trading in the cortisol of chronic anger for the endorphins of altruism, you also will improve the wellness of those around you more by your local action. Time to draw back from opinionated “news” sources and interest groups undermining your contentment, on Facebook or otherwise.

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One Response to The Hug Is Mightier Than the Pen

  1. Sam ES says:

    Yes. Yes yes yes.

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