“No one has done anything on the lab so far,” I type in an irritated Facebook message to my physics lab group at 11:30 p.m. the night before our report is due. “I will literally complain to [the teacher.]” I’ve already written the lab’s purpose, hypothesis and data analysis, but revision history tells me the Google document has remained otherwise untouched since the lab was assigned two days ago.

“Woah dude, calm down,” one of my lab partners responds. “We’ll do our parts; you don’t need to get so angry.”

The issue was eventually resolved; the rest of the group did their share of the work and we received a good grade, but my partner’s response highlights a greater issue — anger carries an unwarranted stigma.

While many are quick to pass anger off as toxic and destructive, it deserves more credit as a useful emotion because it has the potential to incite change and allow self-expression.

Aristotle once said: “The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people … is praised.” More than 2000 years later, this quote still rings true — though its original significance may have been eventually forgotten.

The fact is that anger serves the human body as a vehicle of self-expression. In my life, I’ve noticed that I better understand the feelings of my friends and family once they express their anger to me. Sometimes anger is the only thing that will make people listen — notice how a teacher’s angry yell can silence an entire classroom.

“The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people … is praised.” —Aristotle

Palo Alto High School AP Psychology teacher Melinda Mattes echoes this sentiment.

A few years ago, Mattes managed to channel her anger at a group of cheating students into positive change.

“When I’ve gotten maddest is when I’ve made significant changes in my life,” Mattes says. “It [anger] motivated me to really look at the practice of how we tested [in AP Psychology].”

According to Mattes, anger’s animalistic nature comes with some downsides, but its positives can sometimes outweigh them.

“Anger helps focus us,” Mattes says. “We also know that anger can shut down parts of your rational brain and there are problems with getting that focused, but I think anger can be really valuable too in motivating behavior.”

Mattes’ anger compelled her to redesign her class’s exams to discourage cheating.

Anger is a visceral response, and, while it may not seem like it to all, it is an authentic one. Listening to a person who is angry is one of the most important steps you can take to understand that person’s point of view, a key in maintaining strong relationships. In fact, couples who express their anger with each other are likely to stay together longer than couples who bottle it up, according to a study done from 1971-1988 by Ernest Harburg, a senior research scientist at the University of Michigan.

In essence, expressing anger to one’s spouse — appropriately, of course — is a sign of a healthy relationship.

Despite its benefits, it’s no secret that many people associate anger with violence and wrongdoing. Anger is so stigmatized, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for media outlets to choose to focus on a social movement’s angry side to undermine its effectiveness.

The stigma against anger is unjustified because history has shown in multiple instances that anger can be instrumental to augmenting political causes and catalyzing social change.

Most recently, media organizations like Fox News opposed to the “Black Lives Matter” movement construed the movement’s constituents as irrational by choosing to narrow in only on their angry riots, neglecting the peaceful protests they have successfully orchestrated as well.

The stigma against anger is unjustified because history has shown in multiple instances that anger can be instrumental to augmenting political causes and catalyzing social change.

Take the women’s suffrage movement as an example. Imagine if the general tone of the campaign had been, “Hey guys, would you please listen to us? Seeing as we’re human beings in this country, we’d really appreciate if you would be so kind as to give us the right to vote.”

Without the anger of American women that spurred social change in our country, the women’s rights movement would likely have been set back by decades.

Similarly, my group’s lab report would also have been set back by days or hours if not decades if I didn’t get angry. So next time you want to change the world — or turn in a lab report on time — get angry.