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Revenge Is Sweet, but Forgiveness Is Less Stressful

One way to really reduce your stress level may be to forgive others and yourself. Revenge is a way of holding on to anger and frustration, which can cause chronic stress.

We’ve always given lip service to the value of forgiveness, but the reality has always been more lip than actual forgiveness. Psychologically, holding onto a grudge is always easier than forgiving the source of our anger for whatever he or she did. But the long-term effects aren’t positive at all.

In a study conducted recently at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, psychologists explored the effects of forgiveness on people’s stress levels. They looked at their levels of stress when they were in a non-forgiving mode and compared those stress levels to when the same people were in a forgiving mode. The amount of stress was considerably greater when the subjects were entertaining revenge rather than forgiveness.

Forgiving for small indiscretions is usually no real problem. The major transgressions are the ones that are harder to swallow. You can reach a point of forgiveness by trying to understand where the other person is coming from, looking at his or her background, family history, and specific factors that may have played a role in his or her actions.

For some acts, forgiveness may be unrealistic. The best you can hope for in these situations is some form of acceptance. It’s done. You can’t change it. So try to move on. Maybe the best revenge truly is living well.

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