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7 (Healthy) Reasons To Let In The "Fresh Air" Of Forgiveness

Is revenge sweet? Not according to visionary thinkers from Maya Angelou to Nelson Mandela to Mary Baker Eddy. Here are some ideas from those who have road-tested the art of forgiving under trying circumstances.

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So why can that also be good for your health?

Apart from Martin Luther King Jr - whose life was so tragically cut short by the unforgiving act of another - these visionary thinkers have each lived to a ripe old age, suggesting that turning the other cheek might actually be a good lifestyle choice.

Indeed, that's a view many scientists also share.

"Forgiveness is one of those ways where we wipe clean a major threat to our well-being. That causes the body to have more time to repair. Immune function goes up, blood pressure goes down," said Dr. Fred Luskin, Senior Consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford University.

Beyond such physiological perks for letting go of a tit for tat mentality, I've found there's another kind of immunity that comes with putting compassion ahead of condemnation. It can open our hearts to a deeper forgiveness available for wrongdoings of our own.

As Jesus put it, the divine way is: "Forgive others, and you will be forgiven."

I've found this becomes especially clear when the basis for our forgiving is not striving to feel a personal leniency despite the logic of a grievance, but rather applying a different kind of logic - a "divine logic", as Mary Baker Eddy puts it. This perspective accepts that if divine goodness is ever-present, as the Bible and other sacred teachings suggest, then the memory of an evil occupying our attention is actually distracting us from a goodness right at hand, a goodness we can access anew at every moment.

Of course, that logic of a divine ever-presence is a big "if" for many, but I've found decades of mental freedom by looking at life through such a spiritual lens. And I've found doing so can often open the way to practical solutions for situations which had seemed to reach an impasse. In this way forgiveness is indeed strength and not weakness, as Gandhi said - a strength that is both empowering and healing.

Far from resentment or revenge being sweet, then, they are bitter pills with an awful side effect. They cloud our sense of the more joyful, healthful, spiritual identity divinely inherent within us.

We don't need to let that happen. Instead, we have the right to see ourselves and others as we are: forever being forgiven by the infinite, divine Principle, Love, that many know as God.

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