Wash Those Troubles Away

436px-"WASH_YOUR_HANDS_OFTEN"_-_NARA_-_516049Having a bad day? Things not working out as planned? Well why don’t you just wash those hands—it’ll make you feel better! At least that’s what a new study is indicating. According to German research (why does that not surprise me?) and noted in Men’s Health:

Washing your hands could make you more optimistic…. After performing a nearly impossible task, people who scrubbed up had a brighter outlook on completing future tasks than those who skipped the soap.

Credit a theory known as embodied cognition: It’s the idea that higher mental processes (like decision making and optimism) are linked to motor processes (like hand washing), explains study author Kai Kaspar, Ph.D. On an unconscious level, the suds could help you think you’re cleaning off bad luck, making you more confident in what you’re about to do.

One of the study’s participants was remarkably upbeat: “I had to deal with a rather troublesome legal issue, but once I washed my hands, I felt like a burden was lifted, as if it were no longer my problem,” said P. Pilate, a prefect from Judea.

Poster by Seymour Nydorf, National Archives and Records Administration

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