Pessimism. Anger. Shyness. Jealousy. Boredom. Impatience.
These characteristics is usually seen as negative. In fact, you hear generalizations that aren’t flattering about all of these traits. Pessimistic people aren’t happy, anger hurts relationships, shy people hide all their lives, jealousy keeps you focused outside your own life, frequent boredom means you don’t have an active mind, and impatience indicates an uncaring attitude towards others. (See also: 5 Ways Negativity Can Help You)
While there are legitimate reasons why these traits aren’t universally desired, the truth is that each of these have positive aspects, too. So just because one or more of these words describes you doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to change.
Pessimistic people tend to live longer and to be healthier for more of those years. This is mostly tied to defensive pessimism, in which people manage their anxiety by thinking through everything bad that could happen so that they can avoid those things. Most experts think that this type of pessimism is protective because people are actually somewhat successful in identifying risks and avoiding them.
To live long and be happy in our lives, we probably need a balance of optimism and this type of pessimism. We do not, however, have to be the bouncy, always-optimistic people that our culture seems to want us to be. It’s still true that optimists have higher overall senses of well-being. When we balance that with the ability to look ahead and avoid possible negative outcomes, we’ll have the best of both possible worlds.
Anger isn’t necessarily wild, it doesn’t just happen to people who are out of control, and it doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. Anger has a lot to offer. It can provide motivation for change, it can actually help our relationships, and it can help us know ourselves better.
When we feel angry, it’s usually because something isn’t going the way we think it should. If we are angry enough and we can channel that energy, we have a lot of power to put towards changing the things that made us angry in the first place.
Anger helps relationships because hiding anger means hiding the truth. When we tell our partners, friends, and relatives the truth about how their actions affect us, and when we genuinely want to find a solution that will work for everyone, expressing our anger often leads to solid changes that make our relationships stronger.
When we look at the things that make us angry, we can learn what is important to us. This is especially true when anger surprises us. Often, that anger means that we care deeply about something that we didn’t previously know we cared about.
There are a lot of good resources about how to overcome shyness. All of these seem to assume that it’s definitely something we’d want to weed out of our lives. However, shy people often self-identify as being good at observing and listening. Since listening well has been identified as one of the most underrated skills for being a good CEO, it seems that being shy may have more to offer than we usually think.
In addition to being important to our survival, being observant may be a skill we’re losing. Since it’s still important to note our surroundings and understand the world we live in, maybe we should value shy people more than we do.
It’s easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed of our jealousy, but the truth is that jealousy shows us what we want and helps us evaluate our lives so that we can live them in a way that makes us happy. When we feel jealous, it’s because someone else has what we want.
However, it’s also true that we often don’t want exactly what the other person has. For instance, it’s common to feel jealous of a friend starting a new job. Upon reflection, though, most people find that they don’t want the exact same job their friend got. Instead, they want a new job themselves, or they want to start something new in general, or maybe they want a new challenge in life.
It’s important to dig below jealousy to find out if it’s hiding other desires or emotions. This helps us identify what we really want out of life, so we can determine the best way to chase it down.
It’s easy to think that you are a boring person if you find yourself bored a lot. However, experiencing boredom often motivates us to find or make meaning in our lives. Being bored indicates that we aren’t doing something that is important to us. Because boredom is uncomfortable, it moves us toward doing things that actually do offer meaning. It helps us find the things that are important to us and participate in them enthusiastically.
Boredom also stimulates creativity. When we don’t like the status quo or find the traditional way of doing things tedious, we’re more likely to come up with a new “normal” or find a new way of doing things. But we often have to get bored to get this done.
When we’re impatient, it’s easy to get annoyed and start acting unkindly to anyone who might be making us impatient. However, impatience also shows us that we don’t care about what we’re doing, or aren’t engaged for some reason.
Most of us find that we aren’t impatient when we’re doing something we love, and that we have ultimate patience, even for tedious or mundane tasks, when we care about the greater process at hand. If this is true for you, then you can use your impatience as a barometer for your levels of caring and engagement. Experiencing a lot of impatience means it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, to decide if it’s time for a change.
Do you have any of these characteristics? Have you experienced them as positive or negative?