Tagged: “The Forgiving Life”

How can I keep the light of forgiveness burning in my heart? There are so many distractions in contemporary culture. Forgiveness could be easily forgotten.

A key is this: Know that what you call “the light of forgiveness” is important to you. Know further that it could fade in you if you do not give it the attention it deserves. Aristotle emphasized practice as a way to grow in the virtues. The more you practice forgiveness, the better you become at it. The better you become at it, then the more you develop what Aristotle called a love for the virtue.

In my book, The Forgiving Life, I focus on what I call the strong will. You need this strong will to persevere in the practice of forgiveness, even though all around you are opportunities to ignore forgiveness and seek pleasure to avoid pain. Forgiveness can be painful work, but the pain, in my view, is far less than carrying the pain of deep resentment for many years.

I wish you the best in your persevering journey to develop a love of the virtue of forgiveness.

Learn more at The Forgiving Life.

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I forgave my ex-partner and all was forgiven and forgotten. This was years ago. All of a sudden, I find myself angry all over again after three years. Did I not go through the forgiveness process the first time?

Forgiving others is not a perfect straight line that gets you to the end of anger and then all anger is finished. The late Lewis Smedes said that forgiving is an imperfect process for imperfect people. Sometimes anger does resurface and it is good to once again go through the forgiveness process. This time, it likely will be a shorter journey, well worth your time and effort. Anger does not necessarily go away completely and so please be gentle with yourself as you forgive again. You may have to do this in the future and this is not unusual.

For additional information, see Forgiveness for Couples.

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I am a little confused about self forgiveness. You say that you do not forgive your own particular imperfections such as, for example, not being good in sports or being overweight or having a chronically sore knee with which you are frustrated. Why can’t we forgive the less-than-perfect coordination or the weight issue or the knee? It seems that it would help people move on in life.

I say that we do not forgive those issues because forgiveness is centered on **persons** and not on things. You offer your goodness to other persons in the hope that they change. When a person is frustrated by the issues of coordination or weight or a challenging knee, the person can forgive **the self** for the disappointments or even the self-loathing caused by these issues. In other words, you are not focused on the issues as you self-forgive, but instead on yourself as a person. You are welcoming yourself back into the human community because of the self-frustration or self-loathing.

For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.

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I am encouraged by your statement that I can reduce my sadness and anger even if I have held these for many years. Yet, I have another question. These feelings now are part of my own identity, who I am as a person. I know that might sound a little odd, but it is scary to think of changing. Can you help me with that?

Change can be scary, especially when it breaks a long-standing pattern. We have seen that people find it hard to make a commitment to forgive because of change; the change itself is the initial challenge. Yet, my question to you is this: What might your new identity be like as you forgive and change? You might change to these kinds of views of yourself:

  • I am someone who does not harm others;
  • I can be a conduit for good in my family;
  • I can bear pain and as I stand up to that pain, I am strong;
  • I am beginning to love more deeply.

These kinds of views of yourself can assist you in a healthier identity and in aiding others in their pain. The new identity, you may find, is more friendly than the old one.

For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.

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New Study Results: People Who are More Forgiving Sleep Better–and Have Better Health

Researchers from universities in Iowa, Michigan, and Massachusetts have discovered that you will sleep better (and feel better) if you just “let it rest” by learning to forgive.

As part of a national survey, those researchers asked 1,423 American adults to rate themselves on how likely they were to forgive themselves for the things they did wrong and forgive others for hurting them. The participants also answered survey questions about how they had slept in the past 30 days, how they would rate their health at the moment, and how satisfied they were with their life.

The results demonstrated that people who were more forgiving were more likely to sleep better and for longer, and in turn have better physical health. They were also more satisfied with life. This was true of people who were more forgiving of others, and people who were more forgiving of themselves—although forgiving others had a stronger relationship with better sleep.

Forgiveness of self and others “may help individuals leave the past day’s regrets and offenses in the past and offer an important buffer between the events of the waking day and the onset and maintenance of sound sleep,” wrote the researchers, led by professor Loren Toussaint at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Otherwise, as many troubled sleepers have experienced, we might have too much on our minds to get any rest.


The Sleep Study was supported in part by the Fetzer Institute as part of the John Templeton Foundation’s campaign for forgiveness research, by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, and by a Faculty Research Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan.

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