If you are someone who can’t hide the sarcasm when you hear stories and tales of the power of positive thinking or you maintain your bad mood when someone tells to you to smile, there are some surprising benefits of bad moods that you might be happy to hear.
A bad mood can make you a better person compared to your “don’t worry, be happy” coworker. Now, this might sound like something to be skeptical about. A bad mood can make you a better person? Well, there is more to it.
In 2013, psychology professor, Joseph P. Forgas from the University of New South Wales and his team published a review of the benefits negative thinking might have on us. In the introduction of his paper, he made a few important points on the state of grouchiness in our modern society.
“Although dysphoria has always been with us and has stimulated many of the greatest achievements of the human spirit, our current cultural epoch is characterized by a unilateral emphasis on the benefits of happiness. Yet, the negative mood remains an essential component of our effective repertoire, and experiences of temporary dysphoria have always been considered normal in previous historical periods.”
We push happiness on people and we try to present sadness as something that should be removed from our lives. Still, sadness played a great role in creating art, literature and music through centuries of creating.
What are some positives of negativity? Bad moods will keep you away from relying on preexisting knowledge which will help you stay away from stereotyping people, generalizing and making biased judgments which are some of the important traits of good people. A bad mood will actually give you more accurate memories of any past events.
From the other side, another study found that happy people are more likely to include misleading details and false memories into their recollection of an incident. Additionally, those who are prone to bad moods are more skeptical (this is not really a surprise) and they are more capable of judging the truth and have a clear picture of what is a rumor, myth and what’s the truth. They also have a higher ability to recognize deception.
From the Forgas study, researchers found that when sad and happy people were asked to perform a more demanding task for as long as they wanted, the sad people spent more time trying to resolve the task, attempted to answer more questions and had more right answers. The results of the research suggest that people who are in a bad mood tend to put more stock into their future achievements than people who are more on the happy side.
All these benefits are fine but they will not do much for you if you can’t make friends because you complain a lot. Another review of the literature, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology from 2015 showed that bad feelings can bring a group of people together. In the studies analyzed in the paper, people who were brought together to work on a project bonded better and performed better when they shared a similar negative mood compared to those who shared a positive mood.
The negative mood only enhanced the work especially if their complaints were similar and related to work where each member had their part. You can remember the last time you and your coworker had a common enemy (your boss probably). You complain, you are not in a good mood and you share similar problems, and therefore you bond.
In conclusion, negative emotions, a bad mood and sadness is a part of life but we shouldn’t embrace the negativity as the main color of our life experience. That’s never a good solution in the long run.