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Monday, February 6, 2023

Positively Health – The power of forgiveness


Can you forgive someone who has hurt you? Professor Everett Worthington, a leading researcher on the correlation between forgiveness and health, was put to the test in 1996. His elderly mother was killed in her apartment by a crowbar-wielding intruder. Even though the suspect was arrested and initially confessed to the crime, mistakes in handling the evidence resulted in his release.

timWorthington already knew the benefits of forgiveness. He had spent the previous eight years examining its power to influence health and wellness. He had examined many studies that first defined forgiveness as “the replacement of hostility and negative feelings with ‘compassion, empathy, or love’ for the offender; and second, chronicled its ability to “blunt or even reverse the physiological stress of chronic anger.”

“I look back and I think, for me, what a mercy from God that I could spend eight years examining forgiveness before I had to deal with it. I had already thought through so many of these issues before I had to apply them.” He ran the full course of shock, anger and grief, but was ready to forgive the suspect in less than a month after his mother’s death.

“We are limited in what we can conclude,’ Worthington acknowledged in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. But he continued, “As a means of diffusing stress and its negative health effects, finding a way out of anger and resentment clearly yields benefits.”

Health reporter Melissa Healey has similarly been looking at studies done on forgiveness throughout the past few years. She concludes in a piece for the Los Angeles Times, “Collectively, researchers say, these findings suggest that failure to forgive may, over a lifetime, boost a person’s risk for heart disease, mental illness and other ills – and conversely, that forgiving others may improve health. Like proper nutrition and exercise, forgiveness appears to be a behavior that a patient can learn, exercise and repeat as needed to prevent disease and preserve health.”

“Those more inclined to pardon the transgressions of others have been found to have lower blood pressure, and have, once they hit late middle age, better overall mental and physical health than those who do not forgive easily,” continued Healy.

Forgiveness may not be easy – as a matter of fact it may be the hardest thing to do – but research shows it may be very important for your health.

Thomas (Tim) Mitchinson
Thomas (Tim) Mitchinsonhttp://www.csillinois.com
Naperville resident, Thomas (Tim) Mitchinson, writes on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. He is also the media spokesman for Christian Science in Illinois. You can contact him at illinois@compub.org.