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5 Ways Forgiveness Can Benefit Your Life

5 Ways Forgiveness Can Benefit Your Life

Take a moment and ask yourself –  what are you holding onto? It’s a question we don’t often stop to consider but we should, because too many of us are shouldering anger or resentment, a slight that we just never got over. And it’s apparent in our stress levels and health. Simply put, it’s hurting us.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can help to stop the damage with a single act. We can forgive.

Too often we hold onto unpleasant memories long after we should because it’s hard to forgive. After all, who can forget that girl in high school who made their life miserable? Or that boss who passed them over for a job promotion that they deserved? A father who maybe wasn’t there when he should have been?

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But ask yourself – what are these memories doing to you? How are they affecting your body and health? As Dr. Karen Swartz stated, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.”

Forgiveness may be difficult, but its positive effects on our physical and mental health are mounting. And it can be cultivated through practice. Need reasons to give it a try? Here are five that you can check on.

1. It reduces stress and stress-related disorders.

Research has repeatedly shown the negative impact of stress on our health. But evidence is accumulating on the positive role forgiveness can play in disrupting this cycle.

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For example, a recent study of 338 adults showed that greater forgiveness was associated over time with less stress and, as a consequence, better mental health. Another study by the same author found that forgiveness  caused the relationship between stress and mental illness to disappear. In a recent interview, the lead researcher stated that “If you don’t have forgiving tendencies, you feel the raw effects of stress in an unmitigated way. You don’t have a buffer against that stress.”

Given the immense problem of stress in our society, forgiveness may be one way to reduce its impact and help out our health in the process.

2. It can lower depression.

Carrying around unresolved anger, pain, and resentment can take a toll on our mental health. Research suggests that “forgiveness therapy”, which is intended to foster forgiveness, can be helpful in alleviating depression.

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Forgiveness of oneself is also helpful in reducing depression, as an earlier study also reported that self-forgiveness decreased depression and, consequently, also reduced the rates of suicide. Considering forgiveness as a two-sided process – one aimed at forgiving others and another at forgiving yourself – may help bolster mood and emotional health.

3. It protects your heart.

We feel this both physically and metaphorically. Numerous studies have found that forgiveness lowers blood pressure, and a recent one showed that it also improved a marker of coronary perfusion.

Forgiveness can help prevent damage to the heart but also reduce problematic symptoms in those with heart disease. One study analyzed individuals with coronary artery disease who experienced anger-recall induced changes in myocardial perfusion. They divided subjects into two groups –a control and a forgiveness group. Not surprisingly, they found that those in the forgiveness group showed decreased anger-recall induced myocardial perfusion defects. In other words, the function of their heart improved. And, of course, no data can quantify the effect on one’s heart when we release the burden of anger.

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4. It can strengthen relationships.

Even the best of relationships can suffer from miscommunication, perceived slights, and insult. We can hold this close to us, vowing never to forget, but that does nothing to allow a relationship to grow. Furthermore, it is likely to skew our perspective of the other’s intentions and feelings towards us. What starts as something small can then snowball into a much bigger problem.

Rather, learning to forgive and even understand another’s viewpoint can foster the growth of a relationship. For example, a study found that forgiveness was the one variable that predicted growth following an infidelity. Forgiveness is crucial to letting go and moving forward.

5. It can help you reach your potential.

We all have dreams and aspirations but are often quick to beat ourselves up for the poor choices we made, the missteps we took, and the people we naively trusted. And too often we don’t forgive ourselves for our perceived wrong-doings. This becomes a heavy weight to carry. It colors our trust in ourselves, confidence in our abilities, and belief in our future. It can materialize as depression and anxiety, low self-worth, and an unwillingness to take risks and put ourselves out there.

If we don’t practice self-forgiveness, we may limit our potential. We may undercut our abilities and second-guess our decisions. We may never summon the courage to do what we really dream of doing. We may never give the world the unique gifts we have to offer.

Forgiveness is healing for our body and mind. If we all were to dedicate ourselves to cultivating it, the world might be a much better place.

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. It’s the opposite of every advertisement we see plastered on the radio and TV. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise.

What we don’t seem to have is any meaning left in our world.

By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.

I know first hand how little we actually need to survive. I was fortunate enough to live in a van for four months while traveling throughout Australia. This experience taught me valuable lessons about what really matters and how little we really need all this stuff we surround ourselves with.

Less is more.

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Living a minimalist lifestyle is reducing.There are a few obvious benefits of minimalism such as less cleaning and stress, a more organized household and more money to be found, but there are also a few deep, life-changing benefits.

What we don’t usually realize is that when we reduce, we reduce a lot more than just stuff.

Consider just some of the benefits of living with fewer possessions:

1. Create Room for What’s Important

When we purge our junk drawers and closets we create space and peace. We lose that claustrophobic feeling and we can actually breathe again. Create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff.

2. More Freedom

The accumulation of stuff is like an anchor, it ties us down. We are always terrified of losing all our ‘stuff’. Let it go and you will experience a freedom like never before: a freedom from greed, debt, obsession and overworking.

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3. Focus on Health and Hobbies

When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing?

You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

4. Less Focus on Material Possessions

All the stuff we surround ourselves with is merely a distraction, we are filling a void. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end.

We are bombarded by the media presenting promises of happiness through materialistic measures. It’s no wonder we struggle everyday. Resist those urges. It’s an empty path, it won’t make you happy.

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It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. I need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. I enjoy stuff, but I also recognize that I don’t need it.

5. More Peace of Mind

When we cling onto material possessions we create stress because we are always afraid of losing these things. By simplifying your life you can lose your attachment to these things and ultimately create a calm, peaceful mind.

The less things you have to worry about, the more peace you have, and it’s as simple as that.

6. More Happiness

When de-cluttering your life, happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence.

You will also find happiness in being more efficient, you will find concentration by having refocused your priorities, you will find joy by enjoying slowing down.

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7. Less Fear of Failure

When you look at Buddhist monks, they have no fear, and they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose.

In whatever you wish to pursue doing you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.

8. More Confidence

The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness.

What’s Next? Go Minimalism.

If you’re ready to start living a minimalist lifestyle, these articles can help you to kickstart:

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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