Have you ever been criticized for being easily distracted? Disorganized, maybe? Do people frequently tell you that your pessimism won’t take you anywhere?

Everyone has their own set of negative personality traits. While others go the extra mile for constant self-improvement, some do not even realize that what they’re like is not as ideal as they’d like to believe. Then there are the few who do notice their negative traits, but opt to see past them – gotta love yourself for who you are, flaws and all, right?

Here’s a pick-upper: it all boils down to perspective.

Some negative personality traits can actually be beneficial. Yes, you read that right. Below are a few of the most common negative personality traits that are said to do you more good than harm in the long run and how to use them to your advantage.

Easily distracted

Gone are the days when people tell you to avoid distractions when working on something big. Focus is a very vital part of success, but the role that distractions play is also quite significant.

In a feature written by Sam Anderson, for New York Magazine, he noted the symbiotic relationship between focus and distraction:

“[Focus] has distraction built into it. The two… [are] the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin to ‘stretch out’ or ‘reach toward’, distraction from ‘to pull apart’. We need both.”


When we are less focused, we are faced with a broader range of information; thus, we are more likely to consider things out of the box. Cindy May, from Scientific American, explained that the “wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.”

Being “lazy”

So you prefer the easier way of doing things, does this really make you “lazy” if you’re getting the same ideal results?

Some would describe this as “intelligent” instead.

People with a preference of the easier process tend to innovate and develop smarter strategies towards attaining their objectives. Why exert more effort when you’ll be just as productive through an easier process?

This, however, remains situational. Not all of the best solutions have easier alternatives. Intelligence is reflected not only on how innovative one gets, but also based on how effective their tactics are.

Negative mindset

Now you have a valid reason to roll your eyes whenever that old lady tells you that rainbow-colored optimism is the key to success. Contrary to popular belief, and ironically enough, having a negative mindset can actually reap positive results.

The American Psychological Association conducted an experiment on defensive pessimism and strategic optimism, and which mindset is likely to be more effective. The initial assumption was that strategic optimists would take the cake, but results showed that both were actually able to deliver quality outputs. Defensive pessimist respondents were said to have utilized their harnessed anxiety as motivation.

Psychologist Julie Norem wrote:

“At first, I asked how these people were able to do so well despite their pessimism. Before long, I began to realize that they were doing so well because of their pessimism… negative thinking transformed anxiety into action.”


Now what? Here are two things you need to consider:

Acknowledge these traits both as positive and negative.

Sure, you now know that these personality traits can be positive, but keep in mind that it’s solely situational. There were reasons why they have been dubbed as negative for the longest time, and this is because they’re not the most effective route to productivity and success. See them as two-sided concepts, their pros are always accompanied with the cons.

Learn to keep the balance.

If you’re set to maintain these traits as your own, find the equilibrium. Recognize that there are limitations to the positive side of the aforementioned traits. There are instances when being lazy would do you good, but in a general sense, hard work still has a greater pay-off.

Published on Lifehack.org.