Smiling and laughing are two of the three methods to instantly reduce stress. The third method is not as quick as smiling or laughing, but it is as effective.
Many years ago, I attended a conference with my wife. I was asked to think about those people in my life who really irritated me every time I saw them or thought about them. There were two primary ones that came to mind.
One was my wife’s boss, she caused stress on my wife. My wife brought it home and shared it with me. I became stressed with her boss. Every time I saw her boss, I got a bit enraged inside.
I was told to take my writing hand and use my index finger to write the name of a person on the palm of my hand. I had to look at that imaginary name momentarily and vividly see that person. After a few seconds we were told to throw our hand upward and release that imaginary name.
I was then told to return my gaze to my hand and look at the empty, blank hand where I had written the name. It was now blank. I had to concentrate for a couple of seconds on the nothingness that remained on the palm of my hand. I did this process twice. Once for my wife’s boss and another time for another irritating person in my life at that time.
As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” It was literally a few days later that I met my wife’s boss at a public event. I was definitely surprised that I had no animosity or resentment toward her. My previous stress that I experienced with previous meetings with her was gone.
Ironically, a year or so later I came across the second person who was a stress source in my life. I had no emotion from that encounter. I have asked others to do similar exercises. Each reported back later than their level of stress and anxiety had abated when they encountered those people after releasing their names to the heavens.
Why does it work? I don’t know. I know it works.