Forgiveness: What is it? What is it NOT? How, specifically do we forgive?

In our society we are urged to forgive but until the last few decades little had been written on specifically HOW to do that. What does it look like (actions)? What does it feel like emotionally? Unfortunately because we have not been taught how to forgive, it makes it very difficult to achieve and then we not only have the burden of ill feelings but we usually stack guilt on top of it.

In her book The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky admits that forgiveness is one of the most challenging Happiness Habits to achieve, but has great benefits to Happiness. It IS difficult to strive for Happiness while dragging around all that baggage. Dr. Lyubomirksy writes, “Forgiveness is not reconciliation-that is, it does not necessarily involve the reestablishment of the relationship with the transgressor. Nor is it equivalent to pardon, which is a legal term and is something usually accomplished within the justice system, or condoning, which implies justifying, minimizing or tolerating the victimization or hurt, thus eliminating the need for forgiveness entirely. Forgiveness does not mean excusing, wich offers extenuating circumstances or a “good reason” (i.e., “He did it when he was high on drugs”) or denial of harm, which connotes the Freudian concept of repression, or an unwillingness to accept what had occurred. Finally, “forgive and forget” is a misnomer, inasmuch as forgiving does not involve a decaying of memory for the hurt. Indeed, truly forgiving someone involves contemplating the injury at some length while forgetting the injury would make that process rather difficult.”

So, the covers what forgiveness is NOT, but what IS forgiveness? Forgivness it is a process. Like grieving, we may want to hurry up and get it over with. On Tuesday, October 6th, 7pm, we will go more in depth into Dr. Lyubomirsky’s book. We will have copies of The How of Happiness for you to borrow or buy. Happiness 101 is a FREE weekly class about Happiness – what it is and how specifically to achieve it through proven scientific methods. Call 801-262-0317 for recorded information or just show up: 220 East 3900 South #7, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Frank Clayton, LPC

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