Often times, we hear public speakers or even our very own grandparents talk about the importance of forgiveness. Many members of our nation are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, in which we try to practice important virtues like forgiveness. Why is the ability to forgive others and even ourselves for wrongdoings or disappointments that important though? Well, science has spoken!
Published as an article in the Journal of Personality and Individual difference, the research “Forgiveness and life satisfaction across different age groups” tackled a research topic that can be easily inferred from its title. The study used scientific scales to measure both life satisfaction and forgiveness and used a sample of 436 Polish people aging anywhere from 19 to 67.
The study aimed to measure the extent of practicing forgiveness of not just oneself or others around us, but also of situations that fall out of our own hands or control and how that can affect our quality of life.
The study found that as we grow older, we tend to forgive more easily and willingly. Therefore, middle-aged and older respondents showed a greater amount of forgiveness than younger respondents. Moreover, on a general note, the results saw that individuals who practiced forgiveness had a more satisfying life. The strongest finding, however, of the research was that overcoming previous unforgiveness gave respondents the greatest satisfaction with their lives.
The moral of the study is that holding a grudge only serves to decrease your own happiness. Continuing to be mad at something that happened in the past or was completely due to circumstance, will only end up hurting you. Holding on to these negative feelings can never change or alter what happened, but we always have a say in how we feel right now. It takes self-awareness and the basic understanding that it is a part of our humanity to commit mistakes to truly be able to practice forgiveness. This is a reminder to be more gentle, not just with others, but also with yourself.