10 ‘bad’ personality traits that are actually quite ‘good’

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It’s 2023 and the world is no longer binary. Things deemed ‘negative’ a few decades ago like stubbornness or avant-garde thinking are now often viewed as good things. 

Have you been berated by parents or authority figures for perpetuating these so-called ‘bad traits’? Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re not a bad person by any means. 

Maybe you’re just ahead of your time or you’re dealing with people with outdated or one-dimensional mindsets. 

Anyway, to help provide some clarity, I’ve gathered a list of 10 traditionally ‘bad’ personality traits that can actually be quite beneficial in modern society. Let’s get to it! 

1) You can be emotionally sensitive 

For most of my life, being sensitive was generally seen as a sign of weakness–this being particularly true for men. 

In fact, crying was (and still is) almost taboo for males. This backward norm often leads to repression and pent-up, unhealthy emotions and behaviors. 

The truth is that sensitivity is a good gauge of empathy and compassion for others. By being sensitive, you’re able to feel more deeply than others, and you can put yourself in their shoes. 

This leads to more compassion, generosity and kindness–something the world definitely needs more of, I think we can all agree to that!

2) You’re a bit impulsive

The traditional connotation of impulsiveness is pretty negative: reckless or irrational behavior that can have some bad implications.

While pure impulsiveness is often still considered a ‘bad’ trait, it also is a sign of creativity and innovation. 

Let’s face it, sometimes you just have to trust your gut

Some of the top creative minds of our lifetime like Warhol or Hemingway often acted on impulse, producing some timeless bodies of work in the process.

So set the spreadsheets aside and be impulsive and spontaneous once in a while. 

Yes, I know, acting impulsively can potentially be a high-risk, high-reward deal too. But when you balance impulse with knowledge and experience, then you can expect some good things to happen!

Alright, so now let’s talk about arrogance…

3) You’re a little cocky 

Here’s the thing: pure arrogance has never been a good thing, regardless of what era in history. 

But being aware of your abilities and manifesting them with a bit of cockiness and swagger is kinda cool. I won’t lie.  

One of my all-time favorite athletes is the NBA basketball player Larry Bird. Bird, who mostly played in the eighties, was known for his otherworldly talent and otherworldly trash-talking. 

The thing with Bird was he would talk a lot during games and then back it up with some incredible basketball.

He’d shoot the lights out almost every game. 

And his mouthiness was never personal, always competitive. Off the court, he was respected and well-liked by players and fans alike. In short, he was a genuine guy with a whole lot of confidence. 

So when you know you’re good at something, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of cockiness and self-promotion, just don’t go full arrogant. 

But still, on paper, being cocky doesn’t sound that great, and neither does stubbornness…

4) You have a stubborn streak

We all have a few friends or relatives who are so stubborn that they refuse to change their minds, even when the evidence is clearly right in front of them. 

In day-to-day life, these people can be a real pain in the butt to deal with. But for other things like achieving goals, stubbornness can be an asset. 

Being stubborn and strong-willed shows your perseverance and determination to get what you want, regardless of setbacks. You have your eyes on the prize and aren’t easily deterred away from it.

5) You aren’t too trusting 

I’ll be honest, I’ve been taken advantage of in the past for being too trusting. I’ve lost money and dignity for being too trusting

And despite all that, I still think humans are inherently good. But you can’t get too complacent about how you deal with people, particularly when it comes to things like business or finances. 

You don’t want to be that cynical hermit that is constantly suspicious of the world and everyone around them.

Instead, try to find a healthy balance: be cautious and discerning but also be on your toes.

 You don’t want to walk into a dangerous neighborhood waving around a wad of cash and armed with an expensive-looking Rolex, for instance. A bit of cautious cynicism will serve you well here.

Realize that you have to be wary of others but welcoming and practical too. Use that noggin of yours to make the distinction!  

6) You’re honest (sometimes to a fault)

In my experience, many people tend to be passive and indecisive in their everyday choices. 

But in certain cultures more than others, pure honesty can come across as a bit crude or offputting. 

The tradeoff is you have to constantly read between the lines when communicating with others or find hidden subtexts, which can be time-consuming and tedious.

But let me tell you, by not beating around the bush and being direct and honest, people tend to get things done at a more efficient pace. 

When you are being blunt, though, make sure it’s constructive, not insulting or personal, with the intention of achieving something productive.

Be honest and dedicated when trying to achieve things but balance it out by being laidback. 

Speaking of which…

7) You’re laidback 

Don’t worry if the occasional person calls you lazy. You’re not lazy. You just know have a healthy work-life balance. 

It’s quite well-established by now that ‘hustle culture’ can be totally toxic, leading to burnout and a multitude of other mental (and physical) health issues. 

People who are laidback are aware that there’s much more to life than work or being married to a job. In short, they’re well-balanced. 

They know how to recharge their batteries, relax and invest in self-care.

8) You have a bit of envy in you 

Jealousy and envy are always portrayed in a bad light in our culture. And yes, these emotions in extreme amounts can definitely be detrimental to our relationships.

In the context of self-improvement, however, envy can also motivate you to get better. It can be that “x-factor” that will finally thrust you to the next level.

Healthy jealousy can go a long way. Let’s say there’s someone at your job with a comparable work ethic and credentials as yours who is constantly getting promoted or praised by colleagues. 

Use that person as that extra bit of motivation to reach the towering heights that we both know you’re capable of.

And a touch of cynicism can be healthy, too…

9) You’re occasionally cynical 

While optimism is generally a good thing, excess (AKA toxic) positivity isn’t rooted in reality. 

In a way, it’s a denial of valid negative feelings. And by blocking out the reality of the situation, your positivity or optimism can likely lead to disappointment. 

I pretty much live by the philosophy, “Expect the worst, hope for the best.” But for the eternal optimist, the latter way of life doesn’t really exist.

The pessimist might be a bit of a downer to be around all the time, but they can also provide a needed dose of realism and pragmatism. 

As annoying as it may seem, the cynical person will consider all the risks involved when making a big decision, including the worst-case scenarios. This allows them to make informed and shrewd decisions. 

I have a very good-natured friend that has always been an eternal optimist. He’s also a business-minded guy.  In his mid-20s, he pursued multiple ventures. 

Though people close to him (myself included) warned him that he was taking on too much, he ignored their advice, naively believing he could achieve great success all on his own like some superhuman. 

I’ll give the guy credit: he hustled. But he had no business partners to balance things out. At the end of the day, a human alone can only handle so much.

Then Covid came, and everything came crashing down. He got himself into so much crippling debt, and his relentless creditors drove him to near madness. 

Although he tells me this traumatic debacle was the most painful lesson in his life, if only he had listened to the practical advice of his peers, a lot of this mayhem could’ve been avoided. 

But such is life!

Now let’s talk about being a little selfish…   

10) You can be selfish 

When I say ‘selfish’, I don’t necessarily mean being greedy or egotistical. When I say ‘selfish,’ I mean knowing the value of self-care. 

There are a lot of people who put themselves last. They simply exist and not much else. There are also people whose lives are defined by their work or their spouse or something else that ultimately isn’t… well, them. 

As an angsty high schooler, I didn’t always fit in. In fact, at times, I dreaded life. This feeling was reflected in how I carried myself, my gloomy demeanor, and my often unkempt appearance. 

One day, I recall a classmate and friend telling me: “You need to be more selfish.” 

The simple but well-meaning sentiment resonated with me—I began to become more social, I tried out for the basketball team, and I took more pride in my academics. 

Years later, I still think about that comment when I feel down or stressed out about something. 

Being a bit selfish means owning who you are as a person and prioritizing your well-being. This doesn’t make you a bad person by any means, it just makes you human!


To recap, remember that the world is a far more complex place these days, and not everything is black and white. Traditionally ‘bad’ labels are no longer what they seem. If you identified with the qualities on this list, then keep doing what you’re doing.

You’re in good company!  

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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