Whatever their personality quirks and limitations, your grandparents probably simply gritted their teeth and got on with life, toughing out any difficulties that arose. But these days we live in the age of self-help. That's great news for those with mental trauma or problematic personalities. Help abounds to assist people who want to become the best, happiest version of themselves, alleviating a lot of human misery.
But it is possible to take self-help too far.
Those on a quest to improve their personalities can get stuck in a trap whereby they strive for only "good" emotions, beating themselves up for down days, sad thoughts, or less-cheerful characteristics. That's first and foremost a failure of self-compassion, but it's also not a realistic understanding of how human personality works, blog Wise Bread pointed out recently.
Sometimes less-than-pleasant personality traits offer those who possess them big upsides. Listing a half dozen much-maligned characteristics, the post points out that "while there are legitimate reasons why these traits aren't universally desired, the truth is that each of these has positive aspects, too." What characteristics do they mean specifically? Here are a few examples.
Sure, starting up takes a lot of optimism in the face of long odds, but pessimism also has its place. Focusing on the potentially negative is essential to avoiding bad things, after all.
"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," says Wise Bread. So stop beating yourself up if you're not exactly the world's most upbeat person.
Sweaty palms at parties and waves of anxiety at networking events aren't fun. Hence the tsunami of articles offering tips on overcoming your shyness. Some of those ideas are useful if you don't plan to lock yourself in your house for your whole life, but it's important to remember that a reluctance to engage in lots of socializing usually comes with significant personality upsides.
As we highlighted here on Inc.com recently, being more introverted can make you a better leader. Wise Bread agrees: "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." Plus, the shy are often more observant and take more alone time to ponder and synthesize what they see and learn.
OK, if you have the attention span of a gnat and get bored if you're not constantly fiddling with your phone or otherwise distracting yourself, you probably have a problem. But a bit of a tendency to get bored isn't a bad thing--nor is letting yourself experience the unpleasant sensation of having nothing interesting to do now and again.
"Experiencing boredom often motivates us to find or make meaning in our lives," Wise Bread asserts. "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." Studies also show that fighting back against boredom spurs creativity. So if you're easily bored, give yourself a pat on the back. Your impatience with pointless tasks and downtime is likely to help you accomplish more.
Should you be more accepting of some of your grumpier personality traits?