9 Benefits To Being In A Bad Mood


Thanks to the happiness cult of the Western world, bad moods have become taboo. We internalize the ideas that happiness directly provides life satisfaction while emotions on the other side of the spectrum are disorders that require some sort of intervention. If anything, this compulsive focus on positivity makes us more miserable.

So it might come as good news that bad moods aren’t actually bad for you. Yep, you read that right. Sadness, anger, frustration and other not-so-cheery emotions are not only a normal part of the human condition, but they’re also important to experience regularly. Below, a rundown of the benefits of being in a bad mood.


1. Negative feelings can motivate us to work harder for what we want.

A 2007 study found that a bad mood can help people stick to difficult tasks and decrease their fear of failure. It might sound counterintuitive, but just think about all of the times we achieved greatness in history when the odds were against us in pretty bad situations. The human spirit can convert negativity into some pretty impressive power.

2. They help us recognize and cope with difficult situations.

Negative emotions are our body’s signals that something isn’t quite right. They played a key role in evolution, helping us avoid physical threats and build functional and protective communities. We are actually capable of feeling far more negative emotions than positive ones, and our survival is directly connected to this complex range.

3. We need to experience bad moods to live a full life.

Think it about it: if it was even possible to feel happiness all the time, we wouldn’t be able to recognize it as a positive thing because it would become the norm, the standard, and nothing worth talking about. Experiencing the full spectrum of emotion on a regular basis grants us the ability to acknowledge each of our emotions and appreciate what they bring to the table. Happiness cannot truly exist without sadness and vice versa.



4. They signal to other humans that we need help.

When we’re feeling foul, those around us tend to notice. Family members, friends and even coworkers feel a sense of concern (even if not a dramatic one) for us when we behave in disengaging and protective ways. This psychologically encourages them to offer help. Even if we don’t want it, it’s nice to see how connected we all are at the end of the day.

5. Some bad moods actually feel pretty good.

Nostalgia, or wandering through memories of the past, often results in a pleasant experience even when some of the moments we revisit are painful. This wistful way of thinking can also impact the ways we move forward with our lives — and for the better. So take that time to get a little lost in your moodiness and see where it ultimately leads you.

6. Sadness can enhance our empathy and compassion for others.

A sad state of mind leads us to focus more on the external cues of others rather than relying on our first impressions, which allows us to connect more deeply with those around us. Additionally, being open to experiencing our negative emotions makes us more capable of mentally putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes than when we simply shut out all the bad stuff in our minds all the time.



7. Sadness is a proven trigger for artistic creativity.

We’ve easily observed this trend throughout history, but there is scientific reasoning behind this correlation. It comes down to the way emotion and cognition intertwine in our brains, and melancholia just so happens to make us more attentive and detail oriented, which are both important attributes in dedicated artists.

8. Bad moods can benefit our judgment and memories.

A 2009 study conducted by Dr. Joe Forgas at the University of New South Wales in Australia had participants watch either a sad movie and recall negative memories or watch an uplifting movie and recall positive memories. They were then asked to judge urban myths and their potential truths. Those in a negative state of mind did a better job of deciphering fake from real, as well as remembering important details to include in their arguments for why they made the choices they made.

9. Negative feelings actually help us hold on to the present moment.

Go ahead, bask in your sadness. Bad moods actually help us focus our attention on the situation in front of us better than good moods. They leave us less susceptible to distraction and increase our abilities to work through more demanding problems. So stick around and feel it long enough to learn from it.


Now, there are obviously limits.

Depressive disorders can be serious and shouldn’t be shoved aside for the sake of feeling all of your feelings. And there are plenty of other psychiatric conditions (like bipolar disorders) that can be harmful if mistaken for “just a bad mood.” Sadness is not depression but depression can include a deep amount of sadness. So listen to yourself, know your healthy limits, and seek help from a medical professional if you’re at all concerned about how often you feel down in the dumps.