Negativity can be your undoing. It’s easy to become trapped in patterns of cynicism, hostility, and irritability, which can not only impact your career prospects, but your personal relationships as well. Unfortunately, a lot of negativity is born from our feelings toward work and our jobs – and since we’re dependent on our jobs for survival, it’s easy to feel trapped, overwhelmed, and hopeless.
Give it several years to marinate, and you’ll be walking around with a near-permanent scowl, and bad attitude to match. What can you do about it? Well, if you’re really keen on making the most of a bad situation, you may try a different approach. Instead of trying to vanquish your bad mood, which has been soured by a soul-crushing job, perhaps, you could embrace it. That’s what some researchers are suggesting.
Gloria Luong, an assistant professor at Colorado State University, and part of the school’s Health, Emotion, and Aging Research Team, recently published a study which found that embracing our bad moods may pave the way to lessening their overall negative effects – which may seem counter-intuitive for most people.
“Bad moods are considered “bad” not only because they may be aversive experiences in and of themselves, but also because they are associated with poorer psychosocial functioning and health,” says their study, accessible through the American Psychological Association.
“Our study demonstrated that the more individuals valued negative affect, the less pronounced (and sometimes even nonexistent) were the associations between everyday experiences of negative affect and a variety of indicators of poorer psychosocial functioning (i.e., emotional health problems, social integration) and physical health (i.e., number of health conditions, health complaints, hand grip strength, momentary physical well-being).”
What’s that all mean? Basically, if you give up on trying to pretend to be happy, or buying into all of that ‘turn your frown upside down’ sort of advice, you’ll probably see better outcomes. It’s like Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious said at the end of Return of the Jedi: “Let the hate flow through you“.
The Star Wars reference may be at the extreme end of things here, but we’re drilling at the same theme. Everyone is going to be in a bad mood from time to time – the trick is to realize those moods can and do have value, under certain circumstances. Embracing them can help you out.
This isn’t always the case, the researchers note, but at least keeping this in mind can help you get through even the worst days. You can read through the study further to see how, exactly, Luong and her team reached their conclusion, but a good summary can be found from the British Psychological Society.
Now, the real question is if, or how, you can take the findings of this study and use them to your advantage. These days, we’re inundated with all kinds of research, but most of us don’t actually implement it into our lives to give us a leg-up. How is this any different? It depends on your approach, and your own individual quirks.
If you’re prone to moodiness, or know that there are certain things that trigger you (an annoying coworker, traffic), you could try taking a different strategic approach to handling your emotions. If your boss is a jerk, and you get really fired up about it, can you boomerang those negative feelings into productivity? Work hard enough, and maybe you’ll become his or her boss. Channeling your emotions and cynicism isn’t always easy, but those who are able to do it have a real advantage.
Let’s face it, you’re going to run into conflict on a daily basis. It’s a part of life. But you can and do have some control over how you respond to it. You can let it distill into negativity and moodiness, impacting your productivity and relationships, or you can embrace it, and use it to your advantage. The ability to do that may take some work, but being mindful of your feelings and emotions is step one.
Embrace your inner animal. Use your emotions as fuel, rather than allowing them to be a hindrance.
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