Happiness – to forgive or not to forgive

Happiness – to forgive or not to forgive

In this fascinating article from Positive Psychology News Daily, Louisa Jewell discusses the pros and cons of forgiveness and revenge…and indirectly, what’s best for happiness?

She cites research from Michael McCullough whose book I read several years ago and which I found to be absolutely fascinating – in fact, out of all the happiness and positive psychology texts I’ve read his “Beyond Revenge” was and remains one of the more interesting to date.

Anyway, here’s a short extract…

Last Sunday I attended the Annual Fire Communion Service at my local church. In this ceremony, each congregant burns a piece of paper containing a brief description of something he or she most wishes to leave behind and lights a candle for one new hope for the coming year. I reflected on what I wanted to let go and wrote it down on a tiny piece of flash paper the church provided. I took my place in line as I watched others throw their paper into the fire. When I found myself next in line I slowly placed my paper close to the fire and as I did that, it instantly ignited and disappeared. Just like that, I felt the burden I had been carrying around for years, disappear.

Forgive or Not to Forgive?

Written on my piece of paper was something I had been carrying around for over 12 years. A very close family member had hurt me very badly many years ago. For my own health and happiness, I decided to completely forgive her by finding compassion for her. I understood why she did what she did and I forgave her _ã_ not because I felt what she did was right, I did it for me to let it go. But over the years, forgiveness offered me no relief and I began to question if forgiveness was the right thing to do in this case? This is when I started to dig deeper on the downside of forgiveness. I mean, is there any time when it does not make sense?

Now I know that the proposition that forgiveness can have negative consequences (gasp!) flies in the face of extensive research showing a plethora of positive effects of forgiveness. In fact, the dozens of studies done on forgiveness certainly give the impression that forgiveness is always the right answer for one_ã_s well-being. But like any virtue, I believe the best use of it is in moderation. On one end of the scale, not having the ability to show any forgiveness can leave you isolated and cold, and on the other end of the scale, using forgiveness indiscriminately can leave you feeling like a doormat which can erode self respect and self-concept. The best use of forgiveness is to know how and when to use it…

…if you’re finding this interesting, and especially if you believe forgiveness would assist you in gaining more happiness, then keep reading the full and original article HERE