November 9, 2020
As we move through life, it is inevitable that we experience hurt. These hurts can come in various forms: a thoughtless act, an unkind word, and condescending behavior. The variations are endless.
How do we deal with these hurts? One way is undoubtedly to lash out in anger at the guilty party. This reaction is natural. And -- it is indeed vital to confront wrongdoing.
Yet, what happens after the dust settles? Do we continue to hold on to hurt that can spiral into resentment, anger, and hate? How can we deal with all the unhappiness boiling inside of us?
The science of well-being proposes that we should extend forgiveness, which is the act of letting go of hurts and vindictiveness. The main reason is that forgiveness promotes personal well-being. Holding on to past pain and hurts ultimately only harms oneself.
Research demonstrates that forgiveness predicts a greater meaning in life and personal happiness. Moreover, people who are dispositionally more forgiving have better relationships and well-being. They experienced less depression and stress.
Importantly, we need to forgive others who are dear to us – because just by the sheer number of contact hours, we are bound to find the other person wanting. And forgiveness promotes personal well-being most in our closest relationships.
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring, condoning, or excusing the past. It may not lead to reconciliation. But it does mean that you are releasing a burden to experience what life can fully offer.
Dr. Louis Tay
Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science. Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!
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