Don't Be Afraid Of Your Dark Side
There can be serious perks to being in a bad mood. The black clouds hanging over our heads do actually have silver linings.
No-one said we always have to be perky.
While there are obvious benefits to releasing negative emotions, like having a good cry, there are also quite a few advantages of being in a stinking bad mood.
Here are just a few:
From Big Think:
"A study from the University of Waterloo published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences shows that being in a bad mood can actually be a good thing. Specifically, a bad mood can boost "executive function."
In other words, it means people in a bad mood "get things done".
The story continues:
"But why is this? Negative moods promote an analytical thinking style that's very well suited to problem-solving."
We don't faff around, in other words.
(N.B. The effect is more pronounced amongst people who are used to bad moods - i.e. it doesn't distract them when a black cloud hovers over them, unlike happy campers who are not as used to low spells and so are more likely to be derailed by them.
According to social psychologist, Joseph Forgas, bad moods make us likelier to stick at things.
From The Conversation:
"Other experiments found that when happy and sad participants were asked to perform a difficult mental task, those in a bad mood tried harder and persevered more. They spent more time on the task, attempted more questions and produced more correct answers."
As Forgas adds in the same article, we are also a lot better at remembering stuff:
"In one study, a bad mood (caused by bad weather) resulted in people better remembering the details of a shop they just left. Bad mood can also improve eyewitness memories by reducing the effects of various distractions, such as irrelevant, false or misleading information."
And we are also a lot less biased, Forgas says:
"We found that bad moods also reduced gullibility and increased scepticism when evaluating urban myths and rumours, and even improved people’s ability to detect deception more accurately. People in a mild bad mood are also less likely to rely on simplistic stereotypes."
5. Lie Detection
From The New York Times (referring to a study led by Forgas):
"A 2006 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology tested subjects on their ability to detect a lie. Subjects who were put in a negative mood by watching a short film about dying of cancer were far more likely to detect lies than subjects who were put in a good mood by watching a clip from a comedy show."
And finally, in undoubtedly the most important finding of all, the act of embracing our bad moods (rather than pretending we don't have them), can literally save our lives.
From the BBC (referring to a 2010 study of patients with coronary artery disease, which looked at their relationship with expressing anger):
"Over the course of the study, 20% experienced a major cardiac event and 9% percent died. Initially it looked like both anger and suppressed anger increased the likelihood of having a heart attack. But after controlling for other factors, the researchers realised anger had no impact – while suppressing it increased the chances of having a heart attack by nearly three-fold."