Being a bit moody at times is not so bad

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Next time you are feeling a bit grumpy don’t worry too much about it, according to an Australian psychologist, the odd bad mood is actually quite good for you. Apparently people who are not in the best of moods are better able to make decisions and are not as naive as those who are much cheerier.

Professor Joe Forgas from the University of New South Wales reckons that when people are happy they may be more creative but when people are miserable they are more attentive and have clearer thoughts. There’s more too.

Those who are in a negative mood have a better memory, can more easily detect when someone is trying to dupe them, are less likely to make errors of judgement and are more adept at putting their case forward in an argument.

According to professor Forgas there is a very good reason why being unhappy is good for us. He says that when we were evolving, a happy and positive mood basically told everyone else that all was well and there was nothing to worry about whereas an unhappy and negative mood gave out a signal that something wasn’t quite right and to be alert and vigilant.

“Therefore a negative outlook promoted a more attentive and externally focused, information processing style” says the professor.

However, before you go thinking that it’s ok to adopt a negative and miserable attitude as a permanent state, you only get the benefits when the bad moods are short lived and temporary.

The message is that all moods are important, even bad ones, and to strive to be happy on a permanent basis isn’t realistic or even healthy, the key is balance, as it always is. If the negative mood is sustained for too long then there are no benefits and according to Forgas the costs are much greater, depression can have a debilitating effect on an individual.

Professor Forgas’s research involved asking volunteers to watch a series of films and to reflect on positive and negative events in their lives. Then he asked them to carry out a number of tasks, one of which was to provide an eyewitness account, and another which was to judge which urban myths were true or false.

Those who were in a bad mood did better and made fewer mistakes than those who were feeling more light-hearted. Forgas says the weather has an impact on us too, dull and rainy days sharpen our memory and sunny and bright days make us more forgetful.

Interesting!

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