Could a grumpy attitude be the secret to success? Let’s find out!
Be positive. Smile more. Look on the bright side. These days, suchlike happiness-promoting messages are everywhere around us. You can literally hire an expert to teach you how to be happy. But is happiness the only thing we should be striving for in life?
What happens if you are a naturally grouchy person? Well, when it comes to personal success, some researches suggest that pessimists are more profitable than optimists. Others imply that people with cynical personality features also have a longer life-span. Therefore, being a grumpy-head might turn out to be a beneficial trait.
For instance, as Pocket Worthy notes, many well-known geniuses, such as Beethoven and Newton, are often short-tempered and experience intense grudges and tantrums. Modern-day visionary leaders make no exception.
So, is there a link between outrage and success?
In a 2011 study, psychologists at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Groningen in The Netherlands examined the “creative production” of angry people. They found out that anger increased both the participants’ creativity and productivity. Compared to systematic thinkers, furious ones showed better results in unstructured thinking and generating innovative ideas.
Matthijs Baas, a leading author of the research, said:
“Anger really prepares the body to mobilise resources – it tells you that the situation you’re in is bad and gives you an energetic boost to get you out of it.”
Which is better – to bottle up your anger or to let it all out?
Repressing feelings is bad for your health. This theory was considered back when the notable Greek philosopher Aristotle researched the effects of cathartic experiences. Coining the term “catharsis,” Aristotle theorized that people who were able to express their negative feelings freely could cleanse themselves of these hostile emotions.
Sigmund Freud was also a supporter of the Greek philosopher’s conjecture. Freud believed that catharsis could play an important role in relieving symptoms of distress. However, he focused mainly on the cathartic benefits of the therapist’s couch.
In recent years, experts continue to investigate whether bottling up emotions is detrimental to one’s health. In 2010, psychologists at Tilburg University in The Netherlands analyzed the way suppressed anger affects patients with coronary artery disease, as this negative emotion is closely related to cardiovascular stress reactivity.
The Dutch psychologists’ findings suggested that suppressed anger increased the likelihood of having a heart attack than anger by nearly threefold. Similar discoveries imply that letting it all out is much more advantageous than holding it in when it comes to overwhelming emotions.
Could anger be beneficial for your social status?
Aggression is often triggered by the feeling that someone does not value you or your interests as much as you wish them to. In fact, the mimicks we make while in rage may help increase our physical strength in the eyes of our opponent. According to a 2014 research, “the muscle movements that constitute the human facial expression of anger were selected because they increased others’ assessments of the angry individual’s strength, thereby increasing bargaining power.”
In relation to the theory that grumpiness may be beneficial, Joseph Forgas, a social psychologist, says:
“Negative moods indicate we’re in a new and challenging situation and call for a more attentive, detailed and observant thinking style.”
Are grumpy people more honest towards others?
When it comes to fairness, studies suggest that grouchy individuals tend to be more candid than optimistic ones. This point was looked through in a 2016 research that experiments with basic emotions and their response to unfair offers. The feelings that were examined were disgust, sadness, anger, fear, happiness, surprise, and neutral.
Playing the “ultimatum game,” the participants showed that most of those who were previously triggered by negative emotions rejected the wrongful offers. The results indicate that feelings, including anger, sadness, and disgust, intensify our sense of fairness.
But does this imply that happiness is bad?
When we are happy, we experience feelings of safety, which reduce our ability to identify threats. Therefore, we are more likely to misjudge a situation and get ourselves in trouble.
In another study, Forgas pursues the issue: “Are we more likely to believe or disbelieve another person depending on our mood state?” The results showed that positive people are more “more trusting and gullible” than the ones with a negative mood.
Furthermore, Gabriele Oettingen, a psychologist from New York University, issued that being optimistic about the future hides serious threats. Her research states:
“Positive thinking can be detrimental to effort and success if it comes in the form of fantasies (free thoughts and images about the desired future) rather than beliefs (expectations).”
In other words, the psychologist stresses that the popular phrase “dream it and you’ll get it” is quite problematic, as daydreamers do not invest enough energy in turning their ideas into reality.
Oettingen found a similar tendency while comparing positive to negative media content. She concluded that the more optimistic the content, the more performance declined.
So, feeling as if your glass is half empty and nothing goes right might turn out to be much more beneficial than being cheerful and buzzing around. Of course, pursuing happiness and fulfillment is also an amazing journey. Though, it clearly isn’t the only thing we should be striving for at all costs.
Cheers to all the cynics, grumpy-heads, and skeptics in this mad world! You are obviously doing something right.