10 "Bad" Habits That Are Actually Signs You're Smarter Than You Think

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Here's the thing about bad habits.

Many of them can hurt you when taken to the extreme. But in small doses, those same "bad" habits can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

As in you don't want to live like a total slob, but a desk in slight disarray could make you more creative. Who knew?

Below, we rounded up 10 supposedly negative behaviors that can, contrary to what your mom, your teacher, and your know-it-all coworker said, be good for you.


There's a growing body of literature dedicated to why people procrastinate and how to stop it.

But Wharton professor and "Originals" author Adam Grant argues that we should expand our conception of procrastination to include not just laziness but also waiting for the right time. In other words, procrastination can help boost creativity because you give yourself a chance to develop your big idea.

In an interview with Business Insider's Rachel Gillett, Grant pointed to Apple's Steve Jobs as an example of someone who benefited from delaying certain tasks.

"The time Steve Jobs was putting things off and noodling on possibilities was time well spent in letting more divergent ideas come to the table, as opposed to diving right in with the most conventional, the most obvious, the most familiar."

Biting your nails

Researchers followed 1,000 kids starting when they were 5 years old. When the kids were 5, 7, 8, and 11, the researchers asked their parents whether they bit their nails or sucked their thumb. About a third of the kids displayed one or both habits.

When the kids were 13 and 32 years old, the researchers performed allergy tests. Sure enough, the group that had habitually bit their nails or sucked their thumb as kids were less likely to have developed allergies.

At the same time, one of the study authors advised parents not to encourage nail-biting or thumb-sucking in their kids.

While nail-biting doesn't typically cause long-term damage, it can damage the skin around the nail, making you more susceptible to infections. Meanwhile, if thumb-sucking continues past when a kid's permanent teeth come in, it can change how the teeth line up.

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Running late

Being chronically tardy can interfere with both your personal and professional relationships, making you look disorganized or, worse, disrespectful.

At the same time, an oft-cited tidbit from Diana DeLonzor, author of "Never Be Late Again," sheds some light on the upsides of lateness. As The New York Times has reported:

"Many late people tend to be both optimistic and unrealistic, she said, and this affects their perception of time. They really believe they can go for a run, pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners, buy groceries and drop off the kids at school in an hour."

In other words, late people hope for and expect the best — which can be a double-edged sword in daily life.

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