Buddha once said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Most of us equate this “burn” to psychological distress; after all, holding a grudge causes you more mental pain than the person who did you wrong.
But did you know that holding a grudge can cause you physical pain as well? You’d be doing your body as well as your mind some good if you took the path of forgiveness instead. There are many health benefits of forgiveness that may make you rethink whether that grudge is really worth it. But first…
…What is Forgiveness?
Some confuse forgiving with just verbally accepting an apology, but that’s not true. Although saying “it’s okay” often goes hand in hand with forgiveness, these things are not one in the same.
In order to forgive you must let go of your anger and negative thoughts and forgive the person deep within yourself as well as outwardly. You can even do this without a true apology, if the person doesn’t feel they are wrong or has too much pride.
Forgiveness is not just a formality, but a state of mind. And that loving, accepting state of mind can lift you from a lot of burdens—mentally and physically.
5 Health Benefits of Forgiveness
1. Lowers stress levels
According to a study done by Hope College reseachers, one of the benefits of forgiveness is lower amounts of cortisol.
Researchers examined 71 participants and their physical responses when they spoke about grudges as opposed to when they spoke about forgiveness and empathy. Those who exhibited more forgiving perspectives had lower physiological stress responses.
Related Article: The Power of Positive Thinking
2. Keeps your heart healthy
Forgiveness is good for the heart—literally. One study suggests that people who hold on to grudges tend to have higher heart rates, while those who are more empathetic and able to forgive tend to have lower heart rates.
Why hold onto anger when it will make your heart do more work than it needs to do?
3. Lowers pain
Having a forgiving heart may lower both emotional and physical pain, according to a study done by Duke