Forgiveness is decent not just for the person who’s forgiven, but for the person who forgives. We frequently think of forgiveness as a kind, generous act — an act of pity or compassion extended to someone who wronged us. While that can be true, research over the past few decades has exposed huge personal benefits to forgiveness as well.
- Makes us happier: Study proposes not only that happy people are more probable to forgive but that forgiving others can make people feel happy, especially when they forgive someone close to them.
- Improves our health: When we reside on grudges, our blood pressure and heart rate spike — signs of stress which damage the body; when we forgive, our stress levels drop, and more forgiving people are protected from the negative health effects of stress. Studies also suggest that holding grudges might compromise our immune system, making us less unaffected to illness.
- Sustains relationships: When our friends unavoidably hurt or disappoint us, holding a grudge makes us less likely to cooperate with them, which weakens feelings of trust and commitment, driving us further apart. Studies suggest that forgiveness can stop this descending spiral and repair our relationship before it dissolves.
- Good for marriages: Spouses who are more forgiving and less spiteful are better at resolving conflicts effectively in their marriage. A long-term study of newlyweds found that more forgiving spouses had stronger, more satisfying relationships. However, when more forgiving spouses were often mistreated by their husbands or wife, they became less satisfied with their marriage.
- Boosts kindness and connectedness: People who feel forgiving don’t only feel more constructive toward someone who hurt them. They’re also more likely to want to volunteer and donate money to charity, and they feel more connected to other people in general.
According to research, the above benefits forgiveness is good for us, our relationships, and our communities.