Science Suggests the Secret to Winning at Life Is Embracing Anger


Ana Suntay-Tanedo via Harper & Harley

Among modern-day self-help books, podcasts, and TED Talks, there's a resounding message about how to lead a successful and fulfilling life: Be positive. It's understandable why the Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes mantra is so popular; research suggests looking on the bright side can rewire our brain, improve relationships, and boost our mental health. But according to Inc., positivity isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you can't stand being told to "lighten up" and are suffering from a case of positivity fatigue, a string of studies suggests grumpy people have a surprising advantage:

  • They earn more: The Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany reveals that self-employed pessimists earn more than optimists. If you're an employee, a 2011 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that those who use anger and threats during negotiations are also more effective. 
  • They're healthier: People who repress negative emotions are at a higher risk of cancer, hypertension, and coronary heart disease, according to research in Health Psychology
  • They live longer: Another study found that people who are pessimistic about their future end up living longer and are more satisfied in the long run, potentially thanks to their low expectations. 

Are you part of the anti-positivity camp? Add Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich ($11) to your reading list—the New York Times bestseller debunks some common psychology myths.