anger management, idiosyncrasy credits, and why Republicans like Trump's pandemic response

Something happened this week that made me so incredibly angry. Normally I get over my anger pretty quickly, but this was the kind of anger that bursts through your brainwaves throughout the day, like background music that someone periodically cranks up. My boyfriend would say something to me about an unrelated issue, and I would respond with “and ANOTHER thing about [incident].” In that state, everything I saw and did—my articles, my boyfriend, this here leaf—was just an example of how everything was bullshit, and I had not been properly vindicated.

I asked Twitter how to quickly turn down this kind of anger. Not because it’s wrong to be angry—we all have a lot to be angry about these days—but because sometimes it’s helpful to be able to make a cup of tea without channeling EAAURG! at the thing you’re angry about. You need to save your anger for helping you become so awesome it makes your haters cry. And you won’t become that if anger is distracting you as you go about your day.

One of the most surprising tips that came back was to put your hands or face or even your whole body in ice water to calm down. This is actually a tip I had heard from a past therapist, as well. And I don’t think the world’s therapists are playing an elaborate prank on humanity by recommending this, so I looked into how it works.

In short, we don’t actually know. Cold water might help move blood toward your core, bathing the brain in “fresh blood.” (Yum.) The iciness might increase endorphins or reduce inflammation. It could slow down the heart rate. With this many potential explanations, you might as well chalk it up to voodoo magic. But in studies, so-called “hydrotherapy” with cold water has reduced depression symptoms in some people, and people anecdotally use it to manage their anxiety and other unwanted emotions. Like anger!

I am not suggesting that you dump a glass of ice water on yourself when you are already at your lowest. Personally, I hate discomfort and making myself even more uncomfortable when I’m already feeling bad is a tall order. But we’re all working from home anyway these days, so dunking our heads in ice water seems less inconvenient than it would be at other times. It might be worth trying, next time you are troubled by the “wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.” Think of it as the ice bucket challenge, except the cause you are helping is yourself.

I did a “PinkCast” with the inimitable Dan Pink. We talked about idiosyncrasy credits, from a safe distance of course.

[You have to go to his website to watch the video, I can’t embed it!]


One reason it’s taken me so long to get another issue out is the eLeCTiOn. That old thing. Anyway, here’s everything I’ve written since last time:

Research shows how we can defeat anti-vax attitudes

80 percent of Republicans think Trump did a great job with the pandemic. Why?

A profile of Never-Trump Republicans, and a look at where they go from here

Ciao for now babies