In life, we experience hardships and betrayal, which lead to all manner of negative emotions, such as grief, anger, and resentment. While they are all valid and not to be ignored, gratitude and forgiveness can change the course of life for you.
Gratitude and forgiveness are interpersonal character strengths associated with pro-social behavior and positive psychological effects. They share the same common component of empathy and lead to positive memory biases and better relationships and appraisals of life.
Gratitude Makes You More Forgiving
Grateful people are less likely to respond with anger and resentment when someone hurts them. They are less likely to seek revenge and try to get even.
Being grateful allows you to focus on the brighter things in life. When you are hurt or angry, shifting your attention to the good things that have happened to you can make you feel better.
When you count your blessings, you are reassured of goodness in life and that pain and struggles are only temporary. Plus, the challenges you face in life will make you stronger and better prepared the next time. Being grateful and forgiving can also develop when you notice that people have offered you support. These types of moments, even when unrelated to your current problems, can help you feel better.
Appreciating your friends and family can also strengthen your relationships with them. You focus on their good sides, not on the things they may have done to hurt you, directly or indirectly. When you let them know how much they mean to you, it can also shift the dynamics in your relationships.
Forgiveness Makes You Less Lonely
Forgiveness can give you some sense of relief. It also brings you closer to people and strengthens relationships. When you forgive someone, you let go of anger and other negative feelings. It boosts your empathy and acceptance. It also applies to forgiving yourself, teaching you more self-compassion.
Many people struggle with forgiveness. For one, they may not realize that it is the root cause of their pain. And two, they are not doing it for themselves. They might be holding back from forgiving someone because they do not want them to get away with what they did.
However, an important thing to note about forgiving is that you should do it for yourself. You do not necessarily have to make another person apologize to you or tell them explicitly that you forgive them. Forgiving can be about letting go of your hurt and setting yourself free.
When you forgive, the person who truly benefits is you. It breaks the link that is keeping you tied to the negative memories that you have not forgotten. Forgiveness breaks your emotional prison created by the grudge you have been holding.
Practicing forgiveness allows you to have more time to notice the good things. You learn to let go of some of your expectations and accept that disappointments are part of life. Once you have released the grudge, you create more space to be happy and love life.
Gratitude and Forgiveness Helps to Improve Your Wellbeing
More than sending you good feelings, gratitude, and forgiveness have a range of benefits to your physical and mental well-being. They can reduce your stress and anxiety levels, give you the emotional strength to manage your problems, help you sleep better at night, and help you to take control of your emotions. As gratitude and forgiveness help you to destress, this then improves your physical health, which will help you feel healthier and live longer!
Gratitude and forgiveness may seem like independent strengths, but they share common attributes. Ultimately, being a grateful person can help you become more forgiving while forgiving others can help you focus on the things you are thankful for. Both can give you some sort of freedom that will allow you to be happier and enjoy life better.