The 6th-largest newspaper in the US and the country’s most popular weekly supermarket magazine have highlighted the importance of forgiveness in the past few days. The Washington Post and Woman’s World recently ran articles offering advice on how to forgive from forgiveness experts including Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute.
This full-length article is featured in the Jan. 27 issue of The Washington Post (a 146-year-old daily newspaper with average weekday circulation of nearly half a million). The article highlights the benefits of forgiveness education work being done by Dr. Enright, one of his research associates Dr. Suzanne Freedman (University of Northern Iowa), and Dr. Frederic Luskin (director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project).
“. . .people who forgive are less anxious and angry and have lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a better quality of sleep,” the article states, citing the published literature. “Studies also show that children who learn how to forgive are better adjusted socially and have higher levels of self-esteem than those who don’t. They even perform better academically.”
Much of the article focuses on Dr. Enright’s forgiveness education work in Northern Ireland, where both public and private schools have been teaching his forgiveness curriculum for the past 21 years. One school, Mount St. Michael’s Primary School, a Catholic school in Randalstown, 23 miles from Belfast, recently paired up with a Protestant school in the same town to offer forgiveness education to a joint class of 7-to-9-year-olds.
“We really need this over here,” St. Michael’s Principal Philip Lavery said. “We teach children how to read and write, but we have to spend more time teaching them how to live, how to be members of a society.”
At Stranmillis University College in Belfast, forgiveness education is a required subject for all students in its teacher training program, where they learn the protocol developed by Dr. Enright and his team at the University of Wisconsin. In a country that has been torn for decades by religious violence, the article concludes, it is only through forgiveness and unselfish love that “we can leave the past behind us.”
Read the full article in The Washington Post.
This article appears in the January 26 issue of Woman’s World magazine (circulation 1.6 million). Subtitled “Sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive others,” the article presents “easy ways to silence the self-blame and welcome self-love.”
The article is based on interviews with three mental health specialists the publication calls its Expert Panel:
- Robert Enright, Ph.D., educational psychologist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
- Everett Worthington, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University; and,
- Kathryn J. Norlock, Ph.D., author of The Moral Psychology of Forgiveness and an ethics professor at Trent University in Ontario, Canada.
The first (and, arguably, the most important) bit of advice offered in the Woman’s World article is:
Remember You’re Worthy – The very first step to self-forgiveness is simply knowing you deserve it, says expert Robert Enright, PhD. “This doesn’t mean letting yourself off the hook without reflecting on what’s happened; rather, it’s reminding yourself that you’re worthy when you’ve started believing the lie that you’re not.” Just reminding yourself that you deserve this nurturing will begin to transform guilt into self-compassion.
Read the full article in Woman’s World.
The benefits of forgiveness have been discussed and debated for centuries but scientific evidence that forgiveness actually “works” has been scant. All that has changed during the past few decades as legions of psychologists and clinicians have begun studying the ancient virtue from a stringently documented, peer-reviewed empirical perspective.
Dr. Robert Enright, an educational psychologist labeled the “forgiveness trailblazer” by Time magazine (and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute), published the first scientific study on person-to-person forgiveness in 1989. In the 15 years following the publication of that article in the Journal of Adolescence, the number of published forgiveness articles had jumped to more than 1,100. And today, researchers can pore through more than 3,000 published articles brandishing empirical evidence on the virtue of forgiveness.
Here is a quick look at several recent research reports related to the benefits of forgiveness:
Forgiveness Reduces Suicidal Behavior
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults and about 1,100 college students die by suicide each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). According to a study of 158 college students, all suffering from mild to severe depression, psychologists at East Tennessee State University found that:
“Students who are more capable of forgiving themselves and others after stressful life events or interpersonal problems have lower rates of suicidal behavior than their peers who are less able to forgive. This study points out that interventions that boost levels of forgiveness can increase self-esteem, hopefulness, positive emotions toward other people, and perceived self-control while reducing levels of depression, anxiety, and drug use.”
Forgiveness Education Program Reduces Depression, Anxiety, and Stress
After implementation of Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Education curriculum for high school students in Turkey, study results demonstrated that:
“Forgiveness Education has led to significant decrease in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Conclusion: Forgiveness Education can be used effectively for adolescents in school settings.”
Even Brief Enright Forgiveness Education Programs Improve Health
Chinese college students demonstrated positive improvement in emotional health following brief (4 sessions compared to the normal 12 sessions) exposure to Enright Forgiveness Education curriculum classes. According to the study:
“The analysis of the pretest and post-test scores indicated that both the Enright Psycho-social Programme and the Chinese Value-oriented Programme had positive effects on improving participants’ general emotional forgiveness, decreasing their negative emotions toward the offender, and improving life satisfaction.”
Forgiveness Significantly Predicts Life Satisfaction
Researchers have begun to investigate the relationship between happiness and subjective factors like Forgiveness. A study with 380 students from different departments of Bursa Uludag University in Bursa, Turkey, found that:
“Happiness has been found to be negatively related to stress and positively related to positive emotions, satisfying relationships, self-esteem, forgiveness, self-compassion, and quality of friendships.Results in this study also indicate that forgiveness and life satisfaction are positively related and that forgiveness significantly predicts life satisfaction. For this reason, my results are important for psychological healthcare workers, who can include these variables into their supportive and preventive programs in order to assess important characteristics that contribute to good psychological health.”
A 54-minute podcast called “How to Move Past Resentment with Dr. Robert Enright, Founder of the International Forgiveness Institute” was released today and is now available free of charge on The Growing Through It Podcast network and major podcast channels.
“When someone wrongs, hurts, or violates us, we get angry,” according to podcast host Jen Arnold. “If we hold on to that anger and resentment it can fester, leading to increased stress, negative emotions, poorer mental health, a weakened immune system, and higher blood pressure. In this podcast, Dr. Enright outlines how can you get past the anger so you can get on with your life.”
The interview with Dr. Enright is episode 23 of the podcast series that Arnold has been taping and airing since last year. The series, she says “offers advice, real conversations, and stories of personal setbacks to help you grow from your challenges.”
Don’t just go through it. Grow through it.
Dr. Enright opens the podcast interview by defining what forgives is and what it’s not (since forgiveness, he says, is so often misunderstood). He goes on to explain what happens when people hold on to resentment before walking listeners through his process for forgiving others and forgiving one’s self as well as how to ask for forgiveness.
Jen Arnold is the founder and CEO of Redesigning Wellness, Inc., a company that offers resilience training to individuals and employee groups. She defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.” Forgiveness, she adds, is an important component of that adaptation process.
- Listen to the entire podcast interview with Dr. Enright.
- View all The Growing Through It Podcast episodes.
- Visit the Redesigning Wellness website.
Forbes Magazine is undeniably one of the most highly read news publications in the world. With 49 global editions licensed in 83 countries and printed in 28 languages, it reaches more than 140 million people worldwide on a monthly basis through direct subscription and its website.
Now the 105-year-old publication has teamed up with medical experts to tout the “immense benefits” of forgiveness on both mental and physical health in an article titled “Forgiveness: How to Forgive Yourself and Others.” It was published on Aug. 31, 2022, and received the coveted Forbes Health Advisory Board seal of approval.
“The benefits of forgiveness greatly outweigh holding a grudge, and can affect both mental and physical health in profound ways,” according to the article. “While forgiveness may feel impossible in certain circumstances, forgiveness experts—yes, this is a real field of study—say that forgiveness can be learned no matter how great the offense. Even if the person you have the hardest time forgiving is yourself, this too, they say, can be learned.”
The Forbes article relies extensively on the work of Dr. Robert Enright and calls him “a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness” and “a leading expert on forgiveness.” Dr. Enright is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute who last year was awarded the 2022 American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology.
“As you can see, all the ways of practicing forgiveness as well as its benefits aren’t really about the person who wronged you; it’s about yourself,” according to the Forbes article. “Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it can be done. When you commit to putting it into practice, your mental and physical health will both be better for it.”
“Clearly forgiveness has immense benefits.”
Here are the scientifically-demonstrated benefits of forgiveness cited in the article:
Mental Benefits of Practicing Forgiveness
- You experience less anxiety when you forgive
- Inability to forgive and depression can be linked
- You feel more hopeful and empowered when you forgive
- You’re less likely to hurt others
Physical Benefits of Practicing Forgiveness
- Forgiveness is good for your heart
- It’s associated with better sleep
- Forgiving supports the immune system
In addition to lauding the benefits of forgiveness, the article includes a helpful list of “10 Ways to Practice Forgiveness for Yourself and Others.”
Read the full Forbes Magazine article.
Over the past 20 years, Joe Daguanno has climbed the corporate ladder at the Mid-West Family of Companies to become Chief Profit Strategist – Partner. That means he is a media, branding, and advertising professional who excels at revenue generation. He’s also a pretty good, and consistent, blogger.
What’s up in the Cosmos? is the title of Daguanno’s personal blog that he has been writing for the past dozen years. His recent Dec. 20 blog post was titled “The Gift of Forgiveness.” Here’s a brief excerpt:
Forgiveness is a gift. It’s love. It’s generosity. It’s mercy.
As we give this gift, we heal.
Holding a grudge acts like a tourniquet to the flow of healing. It closes the heart and the wounds remain open.
Real forgiveness takes strength. It takes courage. It takes honesty. It takes time.
But it’s worth it.
So very much.
Daguanno’s depth of perception about forgiveness developed several years ago when he met Dr. Robert Enright, forgiveness research pioneer and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). That encounter led Daguanno to spearhead development of a series of public service announcements that were broadcast hundreds of time on Wisconsin Public Radio and by numerous commercial radio stations throughout the Midwest—all at no cost to the IFI.
As his title references, Daguanno is a partner in Mid-West Family of Companies—an alliance of more than 40 radio stations covering 8 separate geographic markets–all assembled by the late Dr. William Walker and his son Thomas Walker. Dr. Walker co-founded the IFI along with Dr. Enright in 1995. Thomas Walker continues to provide the IFI with both financial and hands-on support through the Walker Family Trust.
Read Daguanno’s full Dec. 20 blog: “The Gift of Forgiveness.”