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Being grumpy is good for you

Are you radiant with joy? Luminous with positivity? Well, hold on to your hats and fasten your seatbelts because you may be about to have a heart attack. Ha! Sorry. I like ludicrously cheerful people. From a distance. Christmas cards only.

Here’s the thinking: all those happy souls are heading downhill while the grumpier cynics among us are on the road to wealth and longevity. So, cheer up! Except don’t. It’s too dangerous.

BBC Future’s Zaria Gorvett has leaped upon the pressure to be positive, the pandemic of happiness books and mindfulness coaches and satisfaction apps, in order to point out that Grumplestilkins are better negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and less at risk of a heart attack. Cynics have more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives. So, fuck you very much.

Anger, you see, shoves your system in to fight or flight mode, which pushed your brain into new and unfamiliar neural pathways: literally turns you into a mad genius. Fury gives you an energetic boost which provides the sheer gall to take mental risks.

Sunny types will tend to be gullible, selfish and more likely to binge drink, over-eat, practice unsafe sex and, in prehistoric moments, are more vulnerable to predators. Ha! Sorry. Also – and this might be the best bit – studies show that happy people (like dead people) are not necessarily nice. In fact, they are a bit I’m-alright-Jack. Unlikely to share. In contrast to the slightly sad, who are generally fairer and display more empathy. Horrid happy people. Mean happy people. Ha!

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