When Sadness is good For You

Friday 15 August 2014 0 comments

“Anger, fear, shyness,” he continues, “they’re there for a reason.” With that in mind, here are just some of the overlooked upsides to traits and feelings with bad reputations.


1) Anger

According to Wesley Moons, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the litigation consulting firm Moons Analytics, “there are conflicting views on what anger does. On the one hand, it basically serves as a signal that something is wrong. On the other hand, anger is different from other negative emotional states because it seems to increase reliance on mental shortcuts.”

2) Fear

Likewise, fear is a powerful motivator that helps us stay safe when we sense we are in danger. And as long as that fear doesn’t become overwhelming or irrational, it can be a very good thing: If you have a healthy fear of that bear, that cliff, that whatever, you’ll steer clear of it, the thinking goes.

 3) Shyness

Shyness may have a negative reputation, but as long as it doesn’t overwhelm and prevent individuals from interacting with others even when they desperately want to, it, too, has positive aspects. “If you’re a shy person, it’s not a personality deficit, it’s not a character flaw, it’s not a psychological disease it’s simply a feature of who you are,” Carducci says.

 4) Disgust

“Disgust can be positive or negative, and there are various takes on what the implications are… but in terms of benefits, it has a clear one in maintaining health,” Moons says. In a 2004 study out of the UK, for example, men and women looked at images of people and rated their disgust levels in response to the images. They tended to be more grossed out by those with a potential link to disease say, a sweaty-looking, sick man than those with no such links, suggesting humans tend to steer clear of potential health threats because of disgust.

 5) Sadness

Sadness, like many other negative emotions, tends to “cue” a person to pay attention to the negative situation he or she is in, says Moons. “It’s a signal that something’s wrong, so try to problem-solve, try to get out of this situation.”

6) Embarrassment

There’s a difference between embarrassment which some people describe as “secret joy,” Heitler says and humiliation, which is a response to being shamed. “We often blush in embarrassment about something positive that has brought attention onto us,” she explains. In other words, when we feel embarrassed, it’s very likely because something good has happened.

 7) Self-Delusion

Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers wrote a 2011 book, The Folly of Fools, based on the idea that self-deception believing that we’re smarter, more accomplished or more capable than we really are can help us influence others and persuade them that we’re as good as we think we are, reports The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “The Case for Lying to Yourself.” “Benefits tend to come, research shows, when people simply block out negative thoughts, envision themselves enjoying future successes or take an optimistic view of their abilities all of which tend to improve performance or persuasive ability,” the article states.
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