Forgiveness = Happiness?

 In Exercises, Happiness
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I’ve been grumpy all morning. As I was driving, someone cut right in front of me before speeding off into the distance and doing it to someone else. I guess they had somewhere they REALLY needed to be (or are just maniacal drivers), but it really made me angry and put a damper on my day.

This experience got me thinking about the nature of anger and resentment and how it affects our happiness. It’s impossible to never get angry or upset, and it is not healthy to try. However, its also not healthy to hang on to these feelings. I found this happiness exercise called the “Forgiveness Process” which aims to help you forgive people that have wronged you (or cut you off in traffic) and let go of the negative feelings inside yourself. I followed these steps to see if they helped me achieve happiness by letting go of my anger, and they did. Of course, forgiving someone for cutting you off in traffic is easier to achieve than many other forms of forgiveness, but the exercise is about releasing the pain in your heart, not excusing others for their actions.

  1. Sit someplace where you will not be disturbed
  2. Close your eyes and think of someone you are holding anger, hatred or resentment toward in your heart.
  3. Take a couple of deep breaths and let yourself feel your feelings without having to do anything about them. Just notice them
  4. Now, realize that the persons hurtful action can’t be changed. It’s in the past and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to affect it now. Feel the finality of that.
  5. Also realise that this person may never change. They are the way they are. Take a few deep breaths as you accept the truth of that.
  6. Now, see that the person is the way they are- and did whatever they did- because they have some pain, some lack, some woundedness. They may not even realise it themselves but its there. See them through the eyes of compassion for their own suffering. Imagine they are a child that is hurting, lashing out at others for their own pain. Can you feel compassion for them?
  7. Sit quietly for a minute or two more, just feeling the expansion that compassion- in any amount- brings to the heart.

Try these steps if you’re feeling angry towards someone. Releasing your anger will help you on your way to achieving true happiness.

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