When Bruce Banner turns into the Incredible Hulk, that’s when the action starts and we know something exciting is about to happen.
But when he calms down and changes back, the excitement stops. The story gets boring. We know nothing good is going to happen for a while.
When it comes to making long-overdue changes in our lives, most of us could take a page out of the Hulk’s book. Because when we get angry (angry that we’ve put on too much weight, angry that we’ve let ourselves get lazy and out of shape, angry that we’ve been treated unfairly in our jobs, angry because someone we love has been hurt), that’s when we’re primed to make a change. That’s when the action starts for us just like is does for Bruce Banner when he taps into his alter ego.
Anger and other “negative” emotions can lead to some very “positive” changes if we know how to channel them correctly. In short, anger can be a good thing.
Self-improvement is perhaps the best way to funnel negative emotions. That’s something personal trainers and fitness professionals see every day. Give me a client who is mad as hell and fed up with being overweight, out of shape and unhealthy, and I’ll show you a client who has a legitimate shot at reaching his or her goals. Show me a client who “wants” to lose weight, but isn’t pissed off at himself or herself enough to put down the doughnuts, trade the burger for a salad and quit drinking, and I’ll show you a client who is destined to fail.
Weight loss isn’t the only goal that can be helped along by a little bit of anger. How many people have tried countless times to quit smoking only to return to the habit somewhere down the road? But, for some, waking up too many times to a hacking cough or watching too much money get wasted on a disgusting habit can finally bring them to the point where they say, “No more!” Out comes the Hulk, and the Hulk doesn’t smoke.
Anger also can help us get out of a dead-end job or end an unhealthy relationship. The emotion, if used for good, can be one of the best things that happens to us.
And anger isn’t the only so-called negative emotion that we can use for positive change. What about greed? As tycoon Gordon Gecko from the movie “Wall Street” famously opined: “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms ¬¬¬¬– greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
What about jealousy? Is it OK to be jealous of someone else’s success and accomplishments? It is if we don’t let it consume us or cause us to wish ill on others. It is if we use that emotion to make ourselves better. That person in the gym that you wish you looked like can be just the inspiration you need to train harder. And with enough work, you can end up being the person someone else is inspired by (and a little bit jealous of).
And fear? Is there a more powerful and life-changing emotion? How many people wait until they have a heart attack or a stroke before they finally start eating right and exercising? Fear of death is a hell of a motivator.
So don’t shun your negative emotions. Embrace them for the powerful difference-makers they can be. Let your inner Hulk come out once in a while. He can make life exciting and make you a better person.
Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and owner of Frank Shelton Fitness. He can be reached at (302) 463-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.