Forgiveness is difficult – or it seems that way. Recent tragic events may even make it seems impossible. For the moment, though, let’s think about forgiveness in normal everyday life.
Forgiveness is about letting go. It may be excusing a wrong done to us or releasing a debt that someone has difficulty in paying. Both of these imply some sort of release. Of greatest significance in our quest for finding happiness is the letting go of any anger or resentment we have. Anger, resentment and other powerful negative emotions are harmful to ourselves as well as creating unpleasantness for those around us.
When we think of forgiveness, we might think that we are doing someone else a big favour. After all, why should we? Don’t they deserve a grudge, anger or irritation or even simply a sense of blame. But that’s just the ego making us feel a little bit grand. Let’s be perfectly clear about this: the person who is released most of all is the one who forgives.
Forgiveness gives you happiness and well-being
If the forgiver is the main beneficiary, then we can afford to be pretty generous with our forgiving! There are three main angles to think about:
- forgiveness towards ourselves,
- forgiving those who have harmed or offended us and
- cultivating a general attitude of forgiveness towards the world at large.
That sounds a fairly tall order but it is possible in time. The important thing is to work towards it because the more we are able to forgive, the happier we will be. In the main, happier human beings are better human beings.
More on this in Chapter 2 of The Great Little Book of Happiness
Forgiveness has its place,,,but anger is a complex emotional reaction which if denied or subdued can possibly be psychologically harmful to the person who has it. Rather than letting anger go, it may be more positive to understand the nature of it and how to express it without harm to others.
Andrew Marshall says
Thanks for the comment! I certainly agree with your first point.
If the idea of forgiveness is to free us from our psychological morass, understanding the causes of anger must form part of that process. In the beginning, we may need to find some way of releasing the energy of our anger. That may be different from expressing it. Some take the view that acknowledging the presence of a negative emotion and consciously feeling it with full awareness (but not acting upon it) is better than venting it towards an inanimate object, for example.
Once we gain a deeper understanding of the true causes of anger and other difficult emotions – that we see ourselves and others as separate individuals rather than as aspects of an inseparable whole – a clearer view of the world can emerge in which anger rarely finds a foothold. That’s the long haul!