Why Being Bad Is Good For You
Wicked Games1 of 8
By Bari Lieberman
Sure, gossiping, lying and being rude can spoil your rep and sabotage friendships (has eight seasons of Bad Girls Club taught you nothing?), but misbehaving—in moderation—might actually have some benefits. Performing a little behavioral jujitsu with your so-called vices can actually make you smarter, less stressed and more ambitious. Read on to discover the upside of being a little bit bad.
Speak a Little Evil2 of 8
Your gossip session might be the key to reducing stress and gaining a mental edge, but only if you vent strategically, not maliciously. "Gossip can also serve as a healthier release of emotions, as opposed to physically expressing frustration, hurt and anger," says Emrys Westacott, author of The Virtues of our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness and Other Bad Habits. Gossip can also help strengthen relationships: "When you're talking to someone about something, you're strengthening the bond with that person, perhaps sharing a common problem."
Hey, Jealousy3 of 8
"It's amazing, the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy," Rupert Everett once said. (OK, that's from My Best Friend's Wedding, but all good advice should come from a Julia Roberts movie.) Admittedly, reading about your frenemy's promotion and engagement on Facebook won't do wonders on your psyche, but "your I wish that was me thoughts can stir your own ambition—and that's presumably a good thing," says Westacott.
What the Bleep?4 of 8
Your verbal slips may actually make you feel effing great. Researchers from Britain's Keele University found that shouting profanities can actually reduce physical suffering; participants who cursed were able to endure pain nearly 50 percent longer. However, they also found that the more you swear in your daily life, the less powerful the pain-reducing effects are, so keep the b----ing to a minimum.
Mirror, Mirror5 of 8
Assuming you're not entranced by your own reflection, having a mild case of vanity is an asset¬—to yourself and potentially others. "I'm a little bit vain about my garden, so I make it nice, and the people that walk down the street see it and get more pleasure out of it," says Westcott. Vanity can serve as a powerful motivator and can be a drive behind starting, say, a fitness regime or healthful eating habits. Just make sure that outward appearances aren't all you value.
Bragging Rights6 of 8
A boastful talk may be just what you need to win. "We don't particularly enjoy being in the company of someone who is constantly boasting, but it may be that boasting is part of their strategy to psych themselves up for achievement," says Westacott. In fact, a team at Harvard found that, when talking about themselves, participants experienced spurts of heightened activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Translation? Bragging can feel as satisfying as food or sex. To boast without offending others, focus on your accomplishments without comparing them to others.'
Truth Be Told7 of 8
It turns out that honesty is not always the best policy. Although no one wants to be called a liar, the occasional fib is forgivable. "We all tell white lies to keep a relationship sound and to avoid a pointless falling out," says Westacott. "We often tell others that we like and admire something they've done much more than we do. Sometimes our motive may be to avoid embarrassment, but often our motive is to make them feel good." Of course, when your dishonesty is spurred by self-interest rather than by protecting someone else, then you lose your moral high ground.
Excuse You8 of 8
While being loud, abrasive and demanding won't win you any admirers, doing so might be necessary in an emergency, says Westacott. When social conventions can get in the way of helping someone (or protecting yourself), then it might take being a little rude to get through to them, he explains.
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