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The Whole Human

10 bad habits that might actually mean you’re smarter than you think

What habits come to mind when you think of your bad habits? Is it frequent Netflix binges that keep you looking less than bright-eyed in the mornings? Or maybe it’s the three-plus cups of daily coffee that gives you the jitters?

Most of the time, when we talk about bad habits, we are forced to take a hard look at the minute or major things we do on a consistent basis and see how those things might be holding us back from being our best selves. For example, some bad habits like not asking for what you want from life, or while at work, could keep you from getting a promotion or something else.

But not all bad habits are in fact “bad” or totally detrimental. Quite the opposite actually, there are some behaviors that were once thought of as negative, that can be part of a healthy lifestyle; so long as you don’t let those “bad” habits run amuck.

Ahead, are 10 formerly “bad” habits, that might just be good for you, and may even mean that you’re smarter than you think.

1. Nail-biting

A 2016 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics followed 1,000 kids from the age of 5 and found that when the kids were 5,7,8, and 11, about one-third of the kids their nails or sucked their thumbs.

Allergy tests performed when the participants were 13 and 32 years old, found that the habitual thumb suckers and nail biters had lower chances of developing allergies.

2. Procrastination

While we typically associate procrastination with laziness, your procrastination could mean that you simply wait for the right time to get certain things done. And waiting for the right time gives you more time to fully develop creative ideas.

3. Running late

Usually, being a chronically tardy person doesn’t bode well, and can jeopardize personal and professional endeavors. But according to The New York Times’ conversation with Diana DeLonzer, author of “Never Be Late Again”:

“Many late people tend to be both optimistic and unrealistic, and this affects their perception of time,” she said.

So while it may be great to believe you can get a lot done, with only a little bit of time, it can occasionally backfire by making you perpetually late.

4. Chewing gum

Studies have suggested that chewing gum may reduce stress levels and help you feel more alert.

5. Complaining

The need to vent is a very human thing. But if you find that you have become that person who is always lamenting about everything, there is a way to do it in more mindful ways.

Business Insider’s Anisa Purbasari said that “An effective complaint is about an issue that can be remedied and is addressed to someone who has the power to fix it.”

6. Keeping a messy workspace

If your desk or workspace is always in a  state of organized chaos, it might be beneficial to you.

Some research has suggested that a messy desk could indicate that you are goal-oriented in other ways.

7. Using the words “like” and “um”

Every college public speaking course has drilled into us that filler words need to be banished from our vocabularies. But like, your um’s could mean that you’re hardworking and even more memorable when you speak.

8. Daydreaming

The Harvard Business Review cited a study that found that daydreaming for 12 minutes while working on a particularly difficult task can help with finding a solution once you return to said task.

9. Gossiping

There’s such a thing as “prosocial gossip” and it is much healthier than simply bashing others.

Unlike gossiping for the sake of gossip, prosocial gossip “ involves sharing negative judgments about a third party, but where the shared information could protect the recipient from antisocial behavior or exploitation,” according to NPR.

10. Fidgeting

Tapping your fingers at your desk or tapping your foot may not be a bad thing. A UK study, found that fidgeting appeared eliminate the association between long sitting times at work and mortality.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

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