Why being grumpy can be good for you

It may take more muscles to frown than to smile – but being grumpy is better for you.
A new study into behavioural health has discovered people who are always crabbit are less gullible and better at decision making.
Psychology expert Professor Joseph Forgas revealed his startling results in this month’s Australian Medical Journal.
His findings show even the most negative emotions, such as sadness and grumpiness, can prove more valuable than happiness and other positive feelings.
But if being like Victor Meldrew can be better for you when it comes to making decisions, what can other emotions or behaviour do for you?

According to Prof Forgas, grumpy people make better eye witnesses, are harder to fool and will make better judgment calls than cheerier people.
He believes that a negative mood “triggers more attentive, careful thinking and we pay greater attention to the external world”.

Another part of Prof Forgas’ study compared the benefits of being sad to being happy. He found that a sad person can cope with demanding situations better than a happy person because of the way mood affects the brain’s information processing systems.
One of the many tests Prof Forgas used to prove his theories involved asking happy and sad people to judge the merits of urban myths spouted in movies, and found that the sad ones were less likely to be conned.

It might not be big, clever, politically correct or polite but, according to scientists, unleashing a four-letter word outburst can be very good for your health.
A study at Keele University found that swearing helps us deal with pain and that potty-mouthed people can endure pain for 50 per cent longer than non-swearers.

A cheeky nod or wink can be good for your health – it’s official. Studies have shown an inoffensive flirt, even if you are not looking to follow it up, can be a great way to build confidence and reduce stress.
And as long as it is not intended or perceived as sexual harassment, studies have also shown it can improve office morale and camaraderie in stressful times.

Laughter can be the best medicine and since 1995 a form of laughter yoga has been taught around the world to encourage the giggles. It helps with heart health and is also effective in pain management, stress reduction and fighting depression.

A big cheesy grin may be quite off-putting to some but the widest kind of smile is also good for you, with some incredible benefits.
These include a drop in blood pressure, a boosted immune system and a reduction in stress. It also helps produce endorphins, which relax the body, as well as the happy hormone serotonin.

Letting go and having a good blub can be one of the best things for you. Tears include a powerful hormone, leucine enkephalin, which regulates pain and other hormones which regulate stress. So tears could be a physiological way for the body to reduce stress.

A good scream is not only a good workout for the lungs but it is also good for the soul. Primal Scream therapy, popularised in the 1970s and enjoyed by people such as John Lennon, uses shouting to connect to subconscious stresses and issues and get them out.

People who get up early and busy themselves all day long are heading for an early grave, says public health expert Professor Peter Axt.
He believes lazing about is the key to a long life and an antidote to professional stress, provided people are otherwise healthy.
He says: “People who would rather take a midday nap instead of playing squash have a better chance of living into old age.”

Blasting out loud music is the best way to upset your neighbours but it can boost your brain power.
According to researchers at Manchester University music fans are stimulating part of the inner ear known as the sacculus, which responds to the beat in music.
This gives the brain pleasure and makes us feel good – during the music and afterwards.

A fidgety work colleague can drive you mad but fidgets are actually keeping themselves slim.
A study in America found that people who constantly tap their fingers or twitch and stretch are using up an extra 350 calories a day.
Endocrinologist James Levine, who led the research, said: “There are huge differences in the amount of fidgeting between people who are lean and those who are obese.”

An unmade bed may appear to be the height of laziness but it could help prevent asthma.
Scientists at Kingston University found house dust mites – which can bring on an asthma attack – cannot survive in the dry exposed conditions found in an unmade bed.

Nov 4 2009 Brian McIver


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