There are so many books right now being published about happiness. While on the surface this may seem like a good topic and good for us all to be consuming, I believe it is one more indicator of tumultuous and hurting society. We, as a collective unit, are desperately seeking anything to calm the storm that lives with us right now. We are consuming the drugs of hate, bitterness, anger, and anxiety to a point of detrimental personal health and well-being. We have a President who name calls like a teenage bully, news stations fueled with hate and division, and teenagers turning to gun violence and retaliation rather than professional help or friends.
I am so saddened by our unfulfilled hearts. I am heavy hearted that we have so many people who are in desperate desire to understand what could/would make them happy. I genuinely hurt when others cannot find happiness in their life. I have seen the darkest of days where happiness seemed afar and true inner joy was a goal, yet overall, I am a happy person.
I recently listed to Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shriver on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast and listened to Marie talk about her newest book, I’ve Been Thinking. Maria spent a few minutes answering a question Oprah asked about what she teaches her children. She spoke of the values and then she caught my attention when she began to expand upon forgiveness. She tells her children they must practice forgiveness and work to be good at it.
As I heard her say that, my mind trailed off to write this blog because it struck me. It really resonated with me that forgiveness and a forgiving heart is truly a key to happiness. I think of the times I have been in the very darkest of days where happiness eluded me. I see now that I was in a place where I was being unforgiving. For example, after my marriage ended I was in pursuit of my true joy and happiness, but it wasn’t until I fully forgave my ex- husband that I felt my personal happiness again.
As I mentioned earlier, you can read a dozen books about happiness if you would like. You can find literature about the happiest people in the world, but can you forgive? Practicing forgiveness may be one of the best tactics to finding happiness. Speaking of forgiveness, have you forgiven yourself for being slightly overweight or too bossy or a stay-at-home or a workaholic? Have you forgiven your sibling for how they spoke to you or reacted to a situation? Have you forgiven your friend for speaking ill behind your back against you?
How does forgiveness impact your personal happiness? If you are withholding forgiveness you are putting speedbumps on your road to happiness. If you can not forgive yourself or others, you prevent happiness from full development. You may think it is easy for me to say because you think I don’t have people to forgive.
I have forgiven myself for all the wrong, inexperienced things I did as a youth director when I was trying to start a praise service. I handled so many situations incorrectly and it took many years to forgive myself for them. I forgave my ex-husband for his affairs and disrespect. I forgave the girl who used to bully me in school. I hold no grudge against my cousin who really screwed me in a business deal. I will forgive the person getting off this plane in an hour when she shows no curtesy or respect (trust me this takes a special kind of forgiveness, ha). I choose forgiveness, and I practice it daily.
The world gives us many avenues for anger, hate, bitterness, and unhappiness. What if we armed young people with the practice of forgiveness? Could we prevent some of the actions they take to get revenge or to make people pay? Each day we, as adults, are given opportunities to forgive. We can practice forgiveness, model forgiving behaviors to young people and encourage forgiveness in others. If you practice forgiveness, you can impact your happiness. I say this, not as a happiness expert, but as a happy person.
Take some time to reflect and give me feedback if you would like. If given the opportunity to forgive someone today, would you take it?