We are always pressured to be so positive and happy by everyone that we meet. Cultural forces are constantly forcing us to say that we need to be happy. They say that we need to have smiles plastered onto our faces to attract good luck and positive vibes.
There are so many best-selling books out there that say that forcing yourself to stay happy and positive is the key to success. However, science has actually shown that it’s much more advantageous to be less than optimistic.
It turns out that people who are cranky may actually be very good at negotiating and making important decisions. The more cynical you are about the world, it’s also more likely that you have a stable marriage, high income, and longer lifespan.
And these are all factual likelihoods even though you might tend to expect the opposite. People who are in perpetual good moods are also known to run very risky lifestyles. These people are known to be demotivated, inattentive to detail, gullible, and selfish. Positive philosophies and outlooks are also known to promote overeating, alcohol intake, and unsafe sex.
And ultimately, you’re just going to have to come to the realization that the way that you feel isn’t something that just happens by accident. The anger, sadness, regret, and pessimism that you might feel in certain situations aren’t being forced on you by some divine being. These are feelings that might actually prove to be useful for survival.
For instance, take a look at the feeling of anger. Isaac Newton was a guy who was known to have held a grudge. Beethoven was a musical genius who was notorious for his temper tantrums which often turned very physical. It looks like a lot of undeniable geniuses were people who had very short fuses.
There are plenty of people in the tech industry who can serve as perfect examples and testaments to this idea as well. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the richest men in the world, is actually known to have a lot of angry outbursts.
Not too much work has been done on this phenomenon. But in 2009, an expert from the University of Amsterdam named Matthijs Baas decided to do some investigations on the matter. He decided to take it upon himself to recruit a group of interested students to do more research on the idea.
Half of the students were requested to think about a situation or a circumstance that irritated them and they were also asked to write a short essay about their feelings. “This made them a bit angrier, though they weren’t quite driven to full-blown fits of rage,” said Baas. The other half of the group of students was requested to recall sad situations and circumstances.
In the next phase of the study, the two teams were then pitted against one another in a competition to measure their levels of creativity.
They were each granted 16 minutes to think of as many ways possible to further improve the quality of education in the psychology department. And as Baas suspected, the team that was asked to recall angry memories was the one that actually gave more ideas. It was also found that their contributions were more unique.
More importantly, it was also found that the angry volunteers showed better performance when it came to haphazard innovation and unstructured thinking.
That means that these people were more likely to be creative and they were better are making important decisions in high-pressure situations. An example of such thinking would be if you were forced to think about the many possible uses for a brick. A systematic and structured thinker would think of a brick as a material for building larger structures.
However, a more creative thinker would be someone who is able to think of alternative uses for these bricks such as using it as a weapon.
Essentially, creativity all boils down to a mind’s ability to bounce from one particular train of thought to another. That is why in situations that require a person to think on their feet, the more creative ones are more likely to thrive and survive.
“Anger really prepares the body to mobilize resources – it tells you that the situation you’re in is bad and gives you an energetic boost to get you out of it,” asserted Baas.
So, the next time that someone tells you to brighten up and smile more, you can point to this article as a form of justification for your foul mood. There are plenty of things in this world that warrant happiness and joy.
But there are just as many things in the world that will warrant sorrow, regret, and worry. Just do you. You shouldn’t feel too bad about being negative or pessimistic most of the time. It shows that you are human for feeling these things.