2013 ended with the loss of a great man – Nelson Mandela. The lesson of forgiveness he taught the world is something we can all practice and even use to improve our health in the process. Mr. Mandela was wrongly imprisoned for 27 years. Many people would have expected him upon being released to seek retribution. But no, he insisted on forgiveness.
Sometimes the simple changes we make in our lives can be the most powerful. Many of us are holding onto grudges that are actually hijacking our happiness and negatively affecting our health. Research indicates that forgiveness carries many potential health benefits including lower blood pressure and heart rate, fewer episodes of depression and anxiety, improved function of the immune system, a reduction in chronic pain, less fatigue, and improved sleep.
One study showed that forgiveness is even correlated with lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This is important for our bone health because chronically elevated cortisol levels disrupt bone formation and increase the likelihood of osteoporosis. Forgiveness tends to promote an overall improved sense of well-being.
According to Marci Schimoff, author of Happy for No Reason, “The more we can forgive others and ourselves, the greater happiness we will experience.” I learned from Marci a very effective Hawaiian forgiveness technique called Ho’oponopono. It consists of saying four phrases silently to yourself and feeling them inside your heart.
1. I am sorry
2. Please forgive me
3. Thank you
4. I love you
Another excellent way to rid yourself of negative feelings you are holding onto is to write your thoughts down in a forgiveness letter. This letter never needs to be sent. It is just a constructive way to release your emotions. Many people burn or tear up the letter once it is written.
I personally have found forgiveness to be a crucial step in moving forward and experiencing life to its fullest. The New Year is almost here. Wouldn’t it be nice to clear out the clutter from our lives and let go of any hurt, resentment, or bitterness we may be harboring? Let’s honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela and give ourselves the gift of forgiveness.
Lastly, in case you missed it, check out last week’s Power Tip:
Power Tip #7 | Savor Your Vacation and Help Your Bones