3 Negative Personality Traits That Have Positive Benefits
These "bad" qualities can boost your happiness, work life, and even creativity
Let's admit it: We've all got negative qualities and bad habits (nail biting! Being chronically late!) that we're not exactly proud of. The good news? Science could be in your corner: A host of recent studies find positive benefits of those less-than-flattering traits (okay, not all of them). And while some bad habits-smoking, skipping the gym, or constantly overdoing it with not-so-good-for-you foods-are just that: bad, the next time someone calls you entitled (or vain, or selfish, or a Debbie downer), show them this. Below, the upsides to four so-called "negative" qualities.
1. Feeling entitled boosts your creativity. Researchers at Cornell and Vanderbilt found people who had feelings of entitlement were able to be more creative to their approaches on specific tasks. When you feel more entitled, you value being different-which leads gets the creative juices flowing, say the study authors. (For other ways to boost your creativity and more, see The Best Ways to Pump Up Your Mental Muscles.)
2. Selfish behavior can help you lead. Take this career advice for what it's worth: In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who acted selfishly in a game experiment were seen as more powerful than those who helped out other players. And when participants were put in a competitive environment, they chose the dominant individuals as leaders.
3. Pessimists may live longer, healthier lives. A German study found that people who had positive expectations of the future were more likely to die over the next 10 years. One possible explanation that the researchers proposed: When you foresee a "dark future" you take more precautions. After all, if you think you'll never get sick, you're less inclined to get a flu shot than if you think you're really at risk. (Haven't gotten yours yet? Figure out Which Flu Vaccine is Right for You.) So the takeaway isn't to be negative, it's to be realistic.