What is the opposite of anger?

In a recent anger management class, someone asked the question: “what is the opposite of anger?” If we don’t want to be angry, what emotional state do we want to be in that would be the reverse of anger? The answer, of course, is something like “inner peace” or maybe even “happiness.” 

So, the discusssion continued, does inner peace or happiness occur naturally or do we have to do specific things to achieve these states of mind?   New research sheds some light on this question and reveals that people who have happiness make conscious decisions to be happy- or not angry. It is a mental skill set that we can acquire and learn. According to a prior president of the Amercian Psychological Association, happiness is something that we consciously choose.

In our classes, we teach eight tools of anger management, one of which is the tool of learning to respond to stressful situtions instead of just reacting to them. This means being mindful of the choices that we have. “Mindfulness” creates a mental distance between one and one’s behavior which increases self-awareness and the opportunity to choose and direct our actions, rather than being on automactic pilot.

Individuals who flourish in the face of adversity are those who believe that they have control over their emotions and employ the necessary actions to alter their behavior when faced with stress or anger triggers.