Making the choice to forgive and let go is much harder than holding on to hate, resentment, and anger. We want to get justice for the things that have happened to us, and the best way to do that is to hold on to the anger and never forget or forgive. We want those people to pay for the rest of our lives, and our anger and dislike of them ensures that they do – in our own mind. Of course, we keep ourselves in a state of negativity by doing so and the people we won’t forgive move on with their lives while we stay stuck.
It’s funny that one of the hardest things to do is also one of the most beneficial things we can do for our lives. I guess that’s why they say that doing the hard things makes us stronger and happier in life. The benefits of forgiveness make it a practice that we all should be doing.
The simple truth is that you are often going to be met with situations where forgiveness is required. Maybe once a month, maybe once a week, or maybe once a day. The choice you make – to forgive or not forgive – will determine a lot for your life.
So, what are the benefits of forgiveness? Following are 11 of them that should convince you that it’s time to let go and move on.
1. Stops War And Promotes Peace
Forgiveness is one of the keys to peace. When we can’t forgive other people for what they do or say, we keep ourselves in a state of war with them. We battle over how right we are, and, obviously, that affects everything in a very negative way, whether the war is on a big scale or a small scale.
Having little wars with others in your life is a bad thing! The consequences of war is loss: loss of time, energy, happiness, relationships, etc. Therefore, one of the benefits of forgiveness, and experiencing peace instead of war, includes things like gaining time, gaining energy, gaining happiness, and gaining relationships.
Moreover, having wars with yourself is a bad thing. Contemplating what you should have done, what they should have done, and what you can do to make it all better, is just as bad as actually fighting with the other person.
2. Karma Works In Your Favor
We all believe in karma on some level because we have all seen it in action. If you do bad things, bad things come into your life and are done unto you. To me, karma is a way of teaching you who you are and what you want out of life, and a way of showing you how you are currently interacting with life. Sometimes we are not aware of how crazy we are being!
Karma works for both good and bad. When you receive something good, it is likely because of something good you did. However, even good things are a way to assess your life. You learn what you have been doing and what you need to do in the future.
When you can’t forgive others, you will find that situations happen in life where others can’t forgive you. There is nothing worse than being on the wrong end of a ‘forgiveness-required’ situation. You will feel bad, unworthy, unwanted, or many other negative emotions, and that causes you to pay others back by not forgiving them either.
But, when you do forgive others, you become much luckier in life. Perhaps it is because you can focus on more positive emotions and, therefore, attract more positive things to you. No matter what karma really is, you will find that your willingness to forgive will help you experience a more favorable future.
3. Spiritual Growth Happens
Do you want to become stronger in spirit? Do you want to move past your ego and connect to your spirit to feel light and in tune with what is going on around you? Do you want to become more aware and conscious of who you are and what you were meant to do here? If you do, then you better start forgiving! The only way to grow spiritually is to fill your heart with love, and the only way to do that is to let go of all the emotions that are blocking you from love.
There is an emotional scale that determines how you are going to act and go through life. If you are stuck in anger, sadness, or powerlessness (all emotions that come from holding on to anger), then you cannot experience higher emotions such as joy, compassion, or love (all emotions that come from forgiving). Negative emotions keep you stuck in a negative place and keep you under stress where you can’t let go and get into the flow, whereas positive emotions help you feel on top of the world and feel alive.
4. You Get More Time To Create The Life You Want
Not being able to forgive sucks up a lot of time from your life. You need to focus on that person, complain about them, and think about revenge. Often not being able to forgive means stalking, especially now when we can access other people’s lives online. We stalk our exes, old friends, and everyone who has done us wrong. And that takes a lot of time! It takes time to search through their profiles or drive by their house. That’s time that could be spent doing much better things.
When you forgive, you can focus on yourself and your life, not on what other people are doing. You can focus on the people that matter and activities that matter. That helps you make use of the time you have here.
Do you think you have a lot of time to sit around and stew over past experiences? The average lifespan is 71 years, which means you only have 25,915 days in your life to live. About 9,125 (25 years) of those days are spent being young and ignorant (the brain doesn’t really develop until about the age of 25), so technically you could only have about 16,790 days to make things really happen in your life. Make those days count!
5. You Become More Present In Life
Not only do you have more time to create the life you want, you are more present and capable of experiencing life fully, unlike when you are unable to let go. Holding on to anger keeps you stuck in that moment. You relive it and focus on it, even while life is happening around you. As you imagine that trespasses against you, you may be missing out on a warm smile, an exciting opportunity, or a chance to share something with someone you love.
Becoming more present in your life has a whole list of benefits itself, including more creativity, less stress, and less regret. And, of course, it is a way to really experience every moment in your life and not waste a second stuck somewhere that has no benefit for your life at all.
6. Your Life Becomes Less Dark
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that’. If you feel like your life has gotten too heavy or depressing, then you need to add some lightness into it! There are different ways to move from darkness to light, including educating yourself and altruism, but it all starts from a peace of mind that only forgiveness can give you. When you stop dwelling on the things that you wish would have gone differently, you can start focusing on things that light up your life.
7. You Become More Compassionate
Forgiveness requires you to see things from another point of view, which helps you become more understanding and sensitive to other people.
For instance, when you forgive someone for cheating on you, you have to acknowledge that they are flawed (just like we all are) and that they acted from a place that they wouldn’t have acted if they were more enlightened or in a state of love. It’s important to see that they weren’t happy when they did what they did to you. They were confused, upset, hateful, or in a state of negativity. When you can see that in someone who has hurt you, then you can see that in everyone!
Looking at people through compassionate eyes is rewarding. It helps you relate to other people, which improves your relationships. It helps you avoid confrontations and negative feelings, which we all know feels better than getting into fights and feeling angry with someone. And, it helps you become more sensitive with your words and thoughts, which helps you feel better about how you act.
8. You Gain Self-Respect
It’s funny because we think that holding on to anger is what keeps our honor and dignity intact, when, in reality, forgiving is what helps us feel more honor and dignity in our lives. When you are able to forgive someone, you can look in the mirror and feel pretty amazing about yourself. You see a powerful human who can look past faults and other people’s ugliness, and someone who can stay in control of life and how you act on a day-to-day basis. That gives you a real sense of pride and confidence.
When you can’t forgive, you feel more on the same plane as them. Since you don’t like them or what they did, then you are not going to like yourself very much either if you see yourself as a reflection of them.
9. You Set An Amazing Example
As you forgive other people, especially the people that have really done you wrong, your example benefits a lot of people. It can benefit the person you forgave and show them what true compassion and confidence really looks like. It can also benefit any family, friends, or strangers in the same way.
For instance, I’ve seen people forgive others for some pretty horrible stuff, and the respect I have for those people is huge. They have shown me how to stand tall, be fair, and live by my ethics, which is a huge lesson to take in. All of those things have only made my life better, and I’m sure other people were affected by them as well like that.
I guess you could say that you gain the respect of others when you practice forgiveness. They see you as the strong, confident, and loving person who they want to be, and you become someone they want in their life or value in their life, which can benefit your relationships in many different ways.
10. You Improve Your Health
The mind-body connection is strong, and that’s why improved health is one of the benefits of forgiveness. According to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness can benefit your immune system, heart, blood pressure, and helps you fight anxiety, stress, and depression. In other words, your overall health can improve and you can prevent future diseases.
I have to say that, in my personal life, I have seen seniors forgive and have major health improvements. The permanent frowns disappeared, the worry disappeared, and the willingness to laugh and treat themselves better appeared. One man I knew could barely get around his house in his state of bitterness, but once he forgave, he appeared 20 years younger. He stood tall, moved quickly, and seemed to have a bounce in his step that I had never seen.
11. You Become Happier
This is one of the most obvious benefits of forgiveness. When all the other benefits happen in your life, you automatically become happier! You can’t help but feel more alive, more on purpose, happier in your relationships, and happier about your future. Life just feels better when you can let go of the past and focus on what is happening now and what you want to happen.
Happiness comes from a state of being content with life. When you feel alright about what has happened, what you are doing, and where you are going, you automatically feel more happiness. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the dissatisfaction in life and embrace a sense of peace and fulfillment, so don’t wait another minute if you want to be happy – start practicing forgiveness today.