By Jackie White
Forgiveness is one of those loaded concepts that many people brush off because they don’t understand that forgiveness is for themselves. To forgive allows you a feeling of peace. The problem with forgiveness as a concept is that it conjures up a mess of emotions which makes it difficult to process. However, you have a secret weapon in your back pocket that you might not realize is your ticket to forgiveness, and that my friend, is gratitude.
Gratitude is a way of being. Some think it to be a virtue. It is not a difficult thing, it just requires us to practice it so that it becomes a normal activity we take part in on most days. Fred Luskin from The Greater Good Science Center explains that at the heart of forgiveness is gratitude (and compassion). He further explains many are deficient in those areas. We become so “me” focused that we don’t engage in gratitude or practice compassion regularly. That easily allows us to accept the idea that forgiveness isn’t necessary. Yes, I am saying forgiveness is necessary. I didn’t like that summation either when I first heard it. We like to dig our heels in and defy forgiving others because we think that gives them power or a pass on their actions. This is where forgiveness gets a bad rap. Let’s take a look at what forgiveness really is and does for us.
The Anatomy of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is often misunderstood. To begin, it’s easier to explain what it is not. Forgiveness is not saying or allowing the offense that was committed against you to be condoned or forgotten. It also is not letting anyone off the hook for doing you wrong. Instead, it’s saying you are going to release the energy and emotion you have invested in the offense and the person who committed the offense. You are going to do that because by doing so, you are giving yourself the gift of freedom and peace. By setting yourself free from the wrongdoings you can step forward in life without being tethered to the past. This releases you from the power it has held over you.
The Path of Gratitude
hen you take the path of gratitude, you in effect are taking the high road. The high road works in your favor in many ways. A gratitude practice itself can bring about many positive changes in your life. According to Robert A. Emmons in the book Gratitude Works!, “Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait.” Now as great as that sounds, genuinely grateful emotions, and attitudes are not as prevalent as you might think. Much of the reason why is because it takes effort to re-train your negative thought patterns to one of positivity and gratitude.
The Gratitude Guarantee
I am so sold on the importance of gratitude that I am going to offer up a guarantee to you.
The Gratitude Guarantee:
It is far easier than you think it is.
It has far more impact than you think it does
It may very well be the most important practice you have implemented in your life.
It will result in improved life satisfaction.
It will promote positive mental health.
It can lower your blood pressure.
It will give you a greater sense of purpose and resilience.
It will help you move on from painful past transgressions.
It will open the door to forgiveness.
The Gratitude Guarantee offers all of the above and so much more for the price of a few moments of your day.
How to Do Gratitude
Doing gratitude is easy. The hardest thing about it is to remember to do it. Begin each day with writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for. It is also helpful to write down why you are grateful for those things. By adding the why allows you to feel the importance or the emotion behind the thing you are grateful for. Vary your things you are grateful for even if the thing you write down seems “not important”. For example, some mornings I am very grateful for my coffee. Does that rank as important as my gratitude for my children? No, but it’s not a competition. It’s up to you to choose what you are grateful for, period.
Wishing you peace, gratitude, and forgiveness.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.