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Why People Who Are Sullen From Time To Time Are Happier People

Why People Who Are Sullen From Time To Time Are Happier People

Happiness is not always a good thing. And when you think about it, this fact should be obvious. All pleasures in life, whether food or games or company, become negative things when taken to extremes. So why should happiness itself be an exception?

Studies have shown the potential downsides of excessive happiness. According to the Association for Psychological Science, researchers have found “that people who are feeling extreme amounts of happiness may not think as creatively and also tend to take more risks.”

So, if you feel sullen from time to time, you should take some pride in it. For here are some ways in which being grouchy can make you a better person overall.

You are more creative

We all know the stereotype of the miserable, starving artist who produces great cultural works. Just think of Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, or Franz Kafka. Even Aristotle wondered why outstanding artists and philosophers all appeared to be melancholy.

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In 2010, researcher Modupe Akinola conducted a study which further correlated negative emotions with high creativity. Akinola induced positive and negative emotions in two different groups by either praising or criticizing their hopes and dreams. She then had the groups get to work building collages, at which point the collages were evaluated by professional artists.

The artists found that the collages created by those with negative emotions were superior.

Why is this the case? Australian psychologist Joe Forgas argues that those with negative emotions can focus better on details and are more attentive, which leads to better artistic work.

Creativity by its very nature requires someone to step away from the mass of humanity and create something which will stand apart. Stepping off that path can lead to loneliness and then misery. But it can also lead to great things being accomplished, which can explain why those poor artists who accomplish so much exist.

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You are a better decision maker

Forgas has also found that unhappy people have other advantages beyond a superior focus on details. In 2009, he conducted an experiment to test their overall mental capabilities.

Forgas showed people films and asked them to think about thoughts which would put them in a happy or unhappy mood. Then he had them take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Forgas found that those in an unhappier mood did a better job at accurately judging what was true and what was not. He noted that negative thinking promoted “careful thinking” and that unhappy people paid better attention to the outside word. They also made better communicators and writers compared to happy people.

As noted above, happy people tend to take more risks because the negative emotions which may make them more adverse to risk are weaker, making them much more expensive insurance prospects. If that is combined with a negative person’s superior focus on details, that can help better understand the choices behind a decision.

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You will strive more than happy people

Sullen people, by their very nature, are not happy with the way things are. This means that they are more willing to advance and change themselves to improve their prospects compared to happy people who are content to remain as they are.

In one study, psychologist Edward Diener found that college freshman who identified themselves as very happy earned about $3,500 less in their late 30s compared to their colleagues who were not as happy. Diener suggested that it was this very happiness which contributed to these smaller earnings, as the unhappy people were more inclined to change careers or improve their education in order to progress.

It is those who are not content who change the course of human history. Washington and the Founding Fathers were unhappy with British taxes and regulations on their way of life, and thus they founded a nation. Martin Luther King Jr. was unhappy with the treatment of his fellow African Americans, and thus fought to change it.

Perseverance and striving for a better world often requires someone who is sullen with the things they are. That striving leads to greater happiness both for the individual and the greater community.

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You do not always need to be happy

For our entire lives, we have been told that we have a right to be happy. But, as we look at all seven billion people in this planet, can you truly believe that every single one of these seven billion can attain constant happiness?

No. It is impossible. And that is perfectly fine.

Happiness is like a breeze or a puff of smoke. The harder you try to grasp it, the more easily it slips between your fingers. And sometimes, a sullen individual can think better, plan better, and dream for a different route which will lead to more happiness over the long run.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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