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Can Being In A Bad Mood Have Any Benefits?

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 12/07/2018 Sadhana Bharanidharan
© Getty

While mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder are serious mental health conditions that require treatment, short spells of bad moods are a normal part of the human experience.

"Bad moods are mild, temporary negative feelings we all regularly experience in everyday life," said Joseph Paul Forgas, Scientia Professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Australia. "They can be elicited by a variety of everyday negative situations, but typically, people are not consciously aware of the original source of their bad moods."

© Getty Be it advertising or social media, people have wrongly treated happiness like a commodity, an end goal, or a permanent state of mind. In reality, allowing oneself to experience disappointment, frustration, longing, and other negative moods is required as part of our learning process. In some cases, a bad mood can even offer some benefits. 

Better memory

© Getty A new study from Canada found high-reactive individuals (i.e. people who feel bad moods more strongly) performed better on memory tests than their counterparts.

Gallery: These seven foods can actually put you in a bad mood [PureWow] 

"It has been suggested that some of our thinking skills may actually benefit from being in a bad mood because a bad mood encourages us to adopt a more analytic mindset and pay closer attention to detail," said lead author Tara McAuley, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo.

Even though other studies have found a similar association, further research is required to understand the exact mechanism, which would require MRI scans.

Creativity boost

© Getty Researchers believe there is a scientific explanation for the trope of the tortured artist or the idea that great creative works are born out of negative emotions more often than not. 

Take the example of music — from Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" to Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," some of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time were created when their respective artists were experiencing emotional turmoil.

© Getty "In some cases, intense negative emotions can create powerful self-reflective thought and perseverance, leading to increased creativity," one study stated.

So the next time you happen to be down in the dumps, try to take advantage of it with a creative outlet like writing or painting.

Fairer judgment

© Getty In the brain, negative moods are linked to the presence of a threat. This results in heightened awareness, making us more mindful of our surroundings i.e. paying more attention to social cues, body language, etc. This effect can put you in a better place to judge intentions or actions and notice if someone is trying to deceive you.

In addition, past research has presented some surprising findings, linking a slightly negative mood with lower tendencies to stereotype other people. People in a good mood may be prone to stereotyping — which is classified as a form of “heuristic processing” by cognitive psychologists.


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