Well we are into another year, and hopefully we have learned from our past that lacking forgiveness is extremely hard on one’s health. According to the Mayo Clinic, your ability to forgive can lead to the following health benefits:
- Healthier relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- A stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Improved self-esteem
That’s quite a positive list to influence a change from the past with our relationships, to seek forgiveness as needed. Forgiveness is both involved with forgiving others for their actions with you and forgiving ourselves for our less-than-thoughtful actions.
I believe an important part of forgiving ourselves and others is taking time to contemplate. As technology enables us to communicate faster and faster, that period of reflection grows ever shorter.
We are losing the ability to make good, thought-out decisions, to consider the possible effects to ourselves and others, because we feel like there’s no time. One must ask a major question of themselves each time they realize the need for asking for forgiveness on their part, and that is: am I too full of pride to seek true forgiveness?
I think another important aspect of forgiveness in our relationships is taking the time to look at each other in the face and make an honest effort to understand.
Too much communication these days is by texting, email, voicemail and Facebook.
Its these non-verbal signals that allow you to look deeper and ask more questions; they can help you learn how someone else really feels and aid you in resolving any disputes between you.
People don’t sit down and eat dinner together anymore. It’s a simple tradition, but I believe children need this act. They need to participate in conversations with their families, to learn body language, to learn problem-solving, love and respect for each other and the importance of telling the truth.
Part of that is learning how to make a meaningful apology and learning how to forgive.
Forgiveness means putting your feelings on the sidelines knowing that it is in your best interest to put true forgiveness into action. Forgiveness is not optional.
Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.