Forgiveness has been the Mightifier strength of the month in February. Whether it is your top strength or not, harnessing forgiveness to your use is really good for you! 

Forgiveness is the intentional process to let go of negative emotions related to some kind of a mistake or harmful behavior. It’s all about building genuine compassion towards people who have wronged us. Other people are not the only ones we need to forgive – it’s just as important to know how to forgive oneself too. When we are able to forgive, we let go of bitterness and anger. Both things that are harmful for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Here are three things we know about the positive impact of forgiveness:

 

1. More positive outlook on life

Not only will your social relationships benefit from forgiveness, but forgiveness also induces a more positive outlook on life! And what’s even more awesome is that thinking about a time you forgave someone does that too. E.g. researchers have noticed that people estimate a hill to be less steep after they were asked to tell a story of a time when they forgave someone who had wronged them!

 

2. Holding a grudge will hold you down – literally!

Have you ever harbored a grudge against someone? Many of us have, but none of us should! Because holding a grudge will literally hold you down. In a test where people where asked to jump as high as possible, people jumped lower if they had just been asked to talk about a grudge they are holding. So the chip on your shoulder is a heavy one – physically as well!

 

3. Feeling hurt will hurt your immune system

Feeling hurt and disappointed brings an enormous physical burden to your body! Those feelings put your body in a stress mode which causes changes to your heart rate, blood pressure and even your immune system. Forgiveness calms the stress reactions down allowing your immune system to return back to its normal schedule.

 

And these are just a few examples of the effect forgiveness can have on your wellbeing! So let’s harness the character strength of forgiveness to our use today. Forgiving yourself is a good thing to start with. Maybe you weren’t so nice to a friend yesterday? Or maybe you made a mistake at work that affected other people too?

Take a piece of paper and write down what happened, why you think it happened, how it affected someone and how it made you feel? When you’re done documenting the mistake, it’s time to forgive yourself. Write down your forgiveness too – let yourself know that you can and will keep going despite that mistake. When you’re done, it’s time to let go of the grudge and destroy your paper proudly! You can tear it into small pieces, crumble it and dunk into the bin or even use it to – carefully and following all the safety procedures – light your fireplace (or sauna stove if you happen to be in Finland)!

 

Forgiveness won’t change the past, but it will change the future – so why wouldn’t you start today?

 

References:

Hopkins Medicine: Forgiveness – Your health depends on it
Medical Daily: How forgiveness benefits your health?
Mayo Clinic: Forgiveness – Letting go of grudges and bitterness