What Is It?

Researchers have defined forgiveness as a process, beginning with the choice to let go of resentment, negative judgment, and negative behavior towards the person who has harmed you. Forgiveness does not require you to excuse, condone, forget, or reconcile with the person who has harmed you, nor does it require them to apologize. Indeed, the offender doesn’t even need to be aware that you have forgiven them.

Forgiveness is intended to bring you peace of mind and frees you from corrosive anger. It helps you to recognize the pain you have suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life. With time, some experts suggest that you may even begin to cultivate positive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors toward the offender—including compassion, generosity, and love.

Ultimately, forgiveness is a choice one makes for oneself—one that can take time to fully be realized, but in the end it is worth it.

A high school teacher spent several hours over the weekend preparing a new set of lessons for her students on a concept with which they were struggling with last week. Monday morning the teacher finds herself feeling hurt by a group of students who repeatedly disrupted her lesson, making it difficult for others to follow along. Her anger grew when she read an article that suggested teachers are at fault for students’ lack of achievement. Though she feels extremely hurt because her efforts seem to go unacknowledged, she decides to forgive her students and those who don’t seem to understand all the challenges that teachers and students face, which contribute to poor outcomes.

Why Is It Important?

Forgiveness makes us happier.

  • Research suggests not only that happy people are more likely to forgive but that forgiving others can make people feel happy, especially when they forgive someone to whom they feel close.


Forgiveness protects our physical and mental health.


Forgiveness promotes greater connection.

  • When our friends, family, co-workers, and others inevitably hurt or disappoint us, holding a grudge makes us less likely to sacrifice or cooperate with them, which undermines feelings of trust and commitment, driving us further apart. Studies suggest that forgiveness can stop this downward spiral and repair our relationships before they dissolve.
  • People who feel forgiving don’t only feel more positive toward someone who hurt them. They are also more likely to want to volunteer and donate money to charity, and they feel more connected to other people in general.


Forgiveness is good for workplaces.


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“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.”
–Alice Duer Miller
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