Angry? Just write down your feelings and throw the paper away

Here is a simple Japanese way to overcome your anger: write down your feelings on a piece of paper and throw it away.

“We expected that our method would suppress anger to some extent,” the lead researcher said. “However, we were amazed that anger was eliminated almost entirely.” For the study published in Scientific Reports, 50 student participants at Nagoya University, Japan, were asked to write brief opinions about important social issues, such as whether smoking in public should be outlawed.

Regardless of the merit of their writing, their papers were deliberately scored low on intelligence, interest, friendliness, logic and rationality. The evaluators also wrote insulting comments such as: “I cannot believe an educated person would think like this. I hope this person learns something while at the university.”

The participants were then asked to write down their thoughts on the negative feedback on a piece of paper. One group was asked to either throw the paper in a trash can or keep it in a file on their desk. A second group was told to shred the paper or put it in a plastic box. The students were then asked to rate their anger after reading the insulting feedback and after either disposing of or keeping the paper.

All participants reported a higher level of anger after receiving offensive comments. However, anger levels of those who discarded their paper in the trash can or shredded it returned to their initial state after getting rid of the paper. But those who kept the paper experienced only a small decrease in their overall anger.

The technique would be very useful because “controlling anger at home and in the workplace can reduce negative consequences in our jobs and personal lives.”