Many years ago, I read a piece of advice that truly caused me to reflect. The statement was about letting go of petty grievances and of not harboring resentment. It proclaimed that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, not others. Each of us, in our lifetime, has experienced an assault on our identity or sense of self (pride), or on our body. We feel we must defend our bruised egos, reclaim who we are, and create a sense of fairness and justice by getting even. We expect that to make ourselves whole, the person who perpetrated the injustice must apologize, or in some other way give of themselves in order to "make things even."
To the extent that we must endure such injustices, we feel abused and hurt, and we feel we cannot go on until that wrong is somehow "righted". All the while, however, this resentment is creating a knot within us, something that represents "unfinished business". We carry this extra baggage along with us, perhaps adding additional baggage over time, and then realizing one day that we have a lot of this baggage weighing us down, and it truly does weigh us down.
There is abundant evidence now about how the endocrine system, the regulator of hormones that flow from our emotions, can yield unhealthy consequences over time if we continue to carry this additional emotional weight. It can and does create conditions that lead to increased risk for physical and mental illness. Yet, summoning the strength to be larger than any particular issue is to truly proclaim one's independence and create the emotional conditions that empower the body and the mind. This is often easier said than done because we are so habituated to acting like a victim when we are assaulted. We often forget that there is sometimes more power in "not doing" as in "doing"— in yielding rather than forcing. That is a principle of Taoism.
So, it turns out that one of the most beneficial "fitness exercises" a person can do is learning how to forgive. Think of forgiving as "giving for health and happiness"—our own!
DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.
Great Links About What, How, Why, Where and How Often People Do Things
- Calculate your Life Expectancy
- O*Net - A terrific resource to get information about work related occupations
- Wisdom—A must see project of shared experience
- Brian R Little- About Personal Projects
- Authentic Happiness - Take the Work-Life Questionnaire
- wdydwdyd? (Why do you do what you do?)
- Calculate your weekly Time Use
- Bureau of Labor Statistics -American Time Use Survey
- ► February (7)
Interesting Books about Doing and Not Doing
- Bateson, Mary Catherine—Composing a Life
- Bruner, Jerome—Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures On Mind and Culture
- Christiansen, Charles & Townsend, Elizabeth—Introduction to Occupation: The Art and Science of Living
- Csíkszentmihályi, Mihaly— Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
- Diener, Ed, & Biswas-Diener, Robert—Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth.
- Edgell, Stephen—The Sociology of Work: Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work
- Gini, Al—The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure and Vacations
- Kabat-Zinn, Jon—Whereever You Go, There You Are
- Little, Brian; Salmela-Aro, Katerina; and Phillips, Susan D. — Personal Projects Analysis: Goals, Actions and Human Flourishing
- Matuska, K & Christiansen, C. — Life Balance -Multidisciplinary Theories and Research
- McAdams, Dan P. —The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self
- Robinson, John & Godbey, Geoffrey — Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time
- Seligman, Martin—Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
- Tolle, Eckhart—The Power of Now