Let Go to Thrive; The Science of Forgiving

by Scott Crabtree

Let go and forgive. These words are so easy to say, but for some of us–including me–these actions can be hard to do.

In fact when someone does something to us that we perceive as inappropriate or unfair, many of us become vengeful. That’s natural, and to be clear, unpleasant emotions such as anger can be very healthy and helpful to us. Anger can alert us to injustice, for example. But science suggests that being vengeful may be problematic for us, resulting in us being less happy.

When we hold a grudge, the only person suffering is us. As someone wiser than me said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die”. The only person who really suffers is you.

Studies also suggest that forgiving may be a better way forward that makes us happier. As Stanford professor and forgiveness expert Dr. Fred Luskin explains, we have the power to live in peace through forgiveness. Forgiveness is the creation of peace in the present moment. When you forgive, it is you that ends up happier.

In addition to all those other people who may have wronged you, there is one more person you might consider forgiving: yourself.

If you’ve seen me present The Science of Being Happy and Productive at Work, you may find this hard to believe, but my fridge at home is not covered with inspirational magnets. But I bought myself an inspirational magnet about a year ago because I do struggle to let go and this magnet reminded me: let go or get dragged.

The falling leaves outside this time of year remind us: letting go is a natural and helpful process.

Forgive someone and tell us how it goes!

If you are now inspired to let go but aren’t sure how, these resources offer some great advice: how to forgive when it feels impossible, and 15 steps to forgiving.

As always, we would love to hear how these tips are working for you, and what other tactics you use to boost your productivity, creativity and attention at work. Let us know by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page, or tweeting to @ScottCrab.

Scott Crabtree

As the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Brain Science, Scott Crabtree empowers individuals and organizations to apply findings from cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology to boost productivity and happiness at work.

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