Less Anger and More Smiles

February 17, 2020 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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According to Guinness World Records, we have a new world’s-oldest-male:

A Japanese man with a sweet tooth who believes in smiles has become the world’s oldest male at 112 years … Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born in Niigata in northern Japan in 1907, received a certificate for his accomplishment on Wednesday at a nursing home in the city. The previous record holder, Masazo Nonaka, another Japanese, died last month. 

As is often the case with aged people, Mr. Watanabe was asked about to what he credits his longevity. He answered, “Don’t get angry and keep smiling.”

In a society that has no shortage of anger, Mr. Watanabe certainly offers some contrarian advice. And yet, medically, Mr. Watanabe just might be right. Study after study has shown that, although anger can be helpful in flashes to solve big problems, sustained anger, if not directly, is at least secondarily damaging to your health. Dr. Michael Kutcher, an interventional cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, explains:

It’s kind of an adjunctive risk factor. It’s not of and by itself a cause of coronary artery disease or a cause of heart disease. But if the anger is sustained and the blood pressure is affected and the heart rate is affected, that indirectly can lead to coronary disease or disease of the heart muscle.

John Schinnerer, an anger management coach in Danville, California, links anger to a whole host of health problems:

It’s been linked to obesity, low self-esteem, migraines, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, sexual performance problems, increased heart attack risk, lower-quality relationships, higher probability of abusing others emotionally or physically or both, higher blood pressure, and stroke.

In short, anger is something you don’t want to mess around with.

Perhaps Jesus’ brother James was on to something when he wrote: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). And perhaps Solomon really was wise when he wrote: “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Although Christians sometimes talk about a “righteous anger” at the sinfulness and brokenness of this world, we must admit that our appeals to “righteous anger” can be, at times, just thin justifications for anger that is far more sinful than it is saintly. Our anger can be more often self-interested than justice-oriented. I would also point out that, even when the Bible does speak of “righteous anger,” it is immediately followed by a warning: “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). The line between righteous and unrighteous anger, it turns out, is razor thin.

Living life with joy rather than anger seems to be a much safer proposition. The apostle Paul encourages us: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)! Joy is so good, Paul says, it is something we should have “always.” Why? Well, I can’t guarantee that it’ll help you live to 112. But it will be a blessing to those around you. And they’re reason enough to smile.

Entry filed under: Devotional Thoughts. Tags: , , , .

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