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"Forgive for Good" by Luskin

Imagine that your mind is a giant house, and you are the owner and proprietor. You set the rent, decide who the tenants are, and define the conditions of the lease. Now imagine your hurts and disappointments setting up house in your mind. How much are you wanting to accommodate your grievances? Are you setting them up in the master bedroom and installing for them a hottub on the back deck? Are you letting them take over your bathroom and have their stuff lying around everywhere? You have control over how much square footage you give your hurts and disappointments. How much space in your mind do you give your bad fortune? The writer of “Forgive for Good” poses an important question: Do you find your problems more compelling than your blessings?

This word picture has helped me explain the need to take more ownership over our thoughts. What are we really thinking about, and what kind of stories are we telling other people? Are we quick to tell grievance stories or stories of the good stuff? Questions to ponder, I suppose.

In his book, Dr. Luskin lists how learning to forgive is good for your mental and physical well-being and your relationships with others. What I found especially interesting about this author is that he did forgiveness studies with all kinds of groups of people that were dealing with INTENSE hurts: parents whose kids had been murdered, people who have lost family members due to political violence, victims of various accidents that forever altered their physical bodies, and the list continues. He found that by practicing forgiveness, even under these circumstances, people were able to have improvements in their emotional well-being.

Here’s the list. Consider forgiveness.

  • People who are more forgiving have fewer health problems.

  • Forgiveness leads to less stress.

  • Forgiveness leaders to less physical symptoms of stress.

  • Failure to forgive is a risk factor for heart disease.

  • People who blame others for their troubles have higher incidences of illnesses.

  • People who imagine not forgiving someone show negative changes in muscle tension, blood pressure, and immune response.

  • Conversely, people who imaging forgiving their offender not immediate improvement in their muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.

  • Even people with devastating losses can learn to forgive and feel better emotionally and psychologically.

“Hurt and anger are meant to be fleeting emotions, not permanent fixtures. Too many of us never get over the bad things that happened, towing grudges from the past that hinder our lives, harm our health, and shorten our horizons.” – Dr. Luskin, “Forgive for Good”

Heather Lokteff, Counselor Lake Oswego
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