You Can Literally Throw Away Your Negative Thoughts!
Take the trash out: According to new research in Psychological Science, writing down your negative thoughts and tossing them in the garbage can erase your bad mood.
Simple pick-me-up or suspect science? The finding seems silly, admits lead researcher Richard Petty, Ph.D., a professor at The Ohio State University. “But sometimes it’s the silly things that work.”
In one of Petty’s experiments, 83 people were asked to write down thoughts on their body image, then either throw them away or keep them. The results: People who kept their thoughts were more likely to side in favor of their notes–so if they wrote negative notes, they rated themselves more negatively–but those who trashed their thoughts saw no change in how they rated their bodies.
What gives? Your body can control your mind, just as your mind controls your body, says Petty. For example, previous research has demonstrated that you can sit up straight to feel more confident and smile to feel happier.
So try it: Next time something is driving you crazy, just write it down and toss it out. The action “gives a greater finality to your thoughts,” Petty says. That means you’ll trick your brain into marking bad thoughts as gone, instead of suppressing them–only to let your brain find them and start feeling crummy all over again.