On a + note

The power of forgiveness. #7:2012

Posted in on a + note by Admin on March 26, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was home sick with a spring cold, and out of sheer boredom, was watching Oprah reruns. I was half asleep when I heard Oprah say to her guest:

“Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.”

I sat up in bed and started to listen. What interesting ideas that:

  • There are powerful benefits in the act of forgiveness.
  • Holding a grudge is believing you actually can rewrite history.
  • Letting go of the past empowers you to move ahead.
  • Forgiveness is the first step in the process of embracing change.

Perhaps, more importantly, forgiveness is not about placing blame, accepting defeat, being wrong, or being number one.

Of course, as a librarian, I had to explore the whole idea a bit more.

In 1994, Dr. R. Enright from the University of Wisconsin founded the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) to develop a scientific approach to studying forgiveness. The IFI currently focuses on what kind of person is more likely to be forgiving and why. Its research indicates that individuals who were measurably angry, agitated, or hostile are less likely to forgive even after a long period of time. Studies also show that individuals who forgive are happier and healthier (e.g. forgiveness leads to improved functioning of the cardiovascular and nervous systems). Another study found that the less forgiving reported a greater number of health problems, like more skin-related issues and colds.

The research of Stanford University’s Dr. F. Luskins suggests that forgiveness can be learned. In a study of Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland whose family members were murdered in political violence, he found that people who were taught how to forgive become less angry and more optimistic.

I have never placed that much importance of forgiveness…until now. I guess the old adage “You can’t rewrite history” is true and a good thing!

Kitty Pope                                                                                                     #7 April 2012


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