If you’ve clicked on this article, I’m making the assumption that you’re either a fully fledged grump or you know someone who is.
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’m the former. Whether it’s because of hanger, tiredness, or I’ve just woken up on the complete wrong side of the bed that morning, I can’t escape the cold hard truth that I was born grumpy.
And don’t even get me started on my resting bitch face, or else we’ll be here forever. Anyway, I wish I could rattle on about my grumpiness forever, but there is a point to this article.
The point is, my fellow grumps, being grumpy may actually have its benefits because according to research, being bad-tempered helps you earn more money, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage.
Yay for us! So although our optimistic friends and family might be wondering why we don’t smile more, the joke’s on them because apparently, thinking the worst has clear advantages.
As reported by the BBC, while good moods come with substantial risks – such as making you both gullible and selfish – grumpiness makes you more likely to be a superior negotiator and decision-maker.
In one study, Joseph Forgas – who has been studying how emotions affect our behaviour for nearly four decades – worked with colleagues from the University of New South Wales, Australia, to show how our mood impacts our daily lives.
First he put volunteers in either a happy or sad mood by showing them films in the laboratory, before asking them to judge the truth of urban myths – for example, whether power lines cause leukaemia or if the CIA murdered President Kennedy.
Those in a good mood were less able to think sceptically and were significantly more gullible, whereas those in a bad mood were the opposite.
And scientists are increasingly recognising that grumpiness may be beneficial to the full range of our social skills, such as improving language skills, memory and making us more persuasive.
As Forgas said:
Negative moods indicate we’re in a new and challenging situation and call for a more attentive, detailed and observant thinking style.
In line with this, research has also found that feeling slightly down enhances our awareness of social cues. Intriguingly, it also encourages people to act in a more fair way towards others.
And it turns out being pessimistic could also have its advantages, because according to the BBC, optimism can be de-motivating to many and can result in a person failing to achieve their goals.
Gabriele Oettingen, from New York University, said:
People feel accomplished, they relax, and they do not invest the necessary effort to actually realise these positive fantasies and daydreams.
In numerous studies, Oettingen has shown the more wishful your thinking, the less likely any of it is to come true. For example, optimistic thoughts may put obese people off losing weight and make smokers less likely to plan to quit.
In a similar way, people who fantasise about success at work end up earning less, and patients who daydream about getting better may make a slower recovery.
Not only that, but happiness can actually carry more serious risks, as it reduces our ability to identify threats. In other words, it prevents us paying due attention to dangers such as binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex.
So I think we all know what the moral of the story is here.
Grumpiness saves lives. Or at least that’s the line I’m sticking to.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]