Why it pays to be grumpy and bad tempered: Being bad-tempered and pessimistic helps you to earn more, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage

Why it pays to be grumpy and bad tempered: Being bad-tempered and pessimistic helps you to earn more, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage. By Zaria Gorvett. Most people only realize this later in life. Just as well really, or the world wouldn’t be as sweet 🙂

The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages. Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives – though, of course, they’ll anticipate the opposite.

Good moods on the other hand come with substantial risks – sapping your drive, dimming attention to detail and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish. Positivity is also known to encourage binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex.

Anger, for instance.

From Newton’s obsessive grudges to Beethoven’s tantrums – which sometimes came to blows – it seems as though visionary geniuses often come with extremely short tempers. There are plenty of examples to be found in Silicon Valley. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is famed for his angry outbursts and insults (such as “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”) yet they haven’t stopped him building a $300 billion company.

For years, the link remained a mystery. Then in 2009 Matthijs Baas from the University of Amsterdam decided to investigate. …

“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,” says Baas.

In essence, creativity is down to how easily your mind is diverted from one thought path and onto another. In a situation requiring fight or flight, it’s easy to see how turning into a literal “mad genius” could be life-saving.

Desperation and anger are the mothers of invention. Content people just do coloring in.

Research in 2010 on anger and suppressing anger:

But after controlling for other factors, the researchers realised anger had no impact [on rates of heart attack] – while suppressing it increased the chances of having a heart attack by nearly three-fold.

Positive emotions can make you a loser, apparently:

Of all the positive emotions, optimism about the future may have the most ironic effects. Like happiness, positive fantasies about the future can be profoundly de-motivating. “People feel accomplished, they relax, and they do not invest the necessary effort to actually realise these positive fantasies and daydreams,” says Gabriele Oettingen from New York University.

Graduates who fantasise about success at work end up earning less, for instance. Patients who daydream about getting better make a slower recovery. In numerous studies, Oettingen has shown that the more wishful your thinking, the less likely any of it is to come true. “People say ‘dream it and you will get it’ – but that’s problematic,” she says. Optimistic thoughts may also put the obese off losing weight and make smokers less likely to plan to quit.

hat-tip Matthew