This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction. Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain. So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive. That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.
Let’s look at forgiving and forgetting your past.
We’re often mulling over past problems and bad memories. By doing that, we’re keeping them with us and continuing to suffer. A quote I liked from Authentic Happiness:
You can’t hurt the perpetrator by not forgiving,
But you can set yourself free by forgiving.
It may be something we ourselves did that we can’t forgive ourselves for, or something that was done to us that we can’t forget. The goal is to forgive, when you’re ready. If you’re not ready, work on getting ready.
Forgiveness is not forgetting what was done, or ignoring something bad, or just being nice. It’s moving on and letting go of the situation’s hold on us.
Authentic Happiness recommends these steps, “REACH”:
- R – recall the hurt objectively
- E – empathize with the perpetrator
- A – give the altruistic gift of forgiveness (rise above your hurt and thoughts of revenge)
- C – commit to forgive; write it down or say it
- H – hold on to forgiveness; continue to practice it
Let’s start with something small – someone doesn’t wait their turn at a 4 way stop sign, and cuts you off.
- R – recall. Remember the situation. Notice your feelings. Now create a story without all the blame and anger towards the other driver.
- E – empathize. Perhaps they weren’t paying attention. Perhaps they were in a rush. Have you ever done something similar? Have compassion. Put the mistake in perspective.
- A – altruistic forgiveness. Forgive the other person. It’s ok.
- C – commit to forgive. Say it out loud. Imagine your irritation floating away.
- H – hold on. If your irritation returns, practice compassion and wish for peace for the other person.
So each day write down a mistake you made or a grievance you have towards someone else. Practice “REACH”. For small things, you might find it easy to forgive. Practicing with small things exercises our “forgiveness muscle”, and we’ll be better able to let go of bigger things.
Your assignment: Do this exercise once a day.