Forgive Your Way to a Healthy Life

Who knew that becoming more forgiving could lead to major health benefits and stress relief?

Dr. Frederic Luskin has advocated this forgiveness training methodology over many years through a combination of lectures and hands-on instruction. Forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and lead to greater feelings of optimism, hope, compassion and self-confidence.

It sounds great, but is it easier said than done? How does Dr. Luskin go about training individuals throughout the country to reach this abstract place of forgiveness? According to Luskin, individuals go through four distinct learning stages that lead them to the end goal.  Here’s a sneak peak:

Realize the choice we’re making: Taking the focus from what others are doing to us to the realization that our anger response is a choice we are making.

Switch the focus: Instead of blaming outside people and situations for what happens, turn the focus on what we are doing to ourselves. In this step, we realize that anger doesn’t “feel good” and take steps to release it and forgive.

Awareness: Here, we start to notice our anger responses, even to everyday situations. We also realize that anger is an uncomfortable emotion and that the amount of time we dwell on it is a choice we make.

Make a change: With our new understanding of anger as an emotion, we realize that it is both wasteful and hurtful to other people. At this stage, we stop reacting to life with anger.

Dr.Luskin is Chair of the Research Ethics Committee and a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where he teaches tests, measurement, and research methodology. He is also the Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects, a series of research programs centered on forgiveness training methodology in a variety of populations around the world, including war-ravaged communities in Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland, and with victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11. He serves as a Senior Consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford and has taught and lectured on the topic of forgiveness worldwide. Dr. Luskin is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. He holds a California License as an Educational Psychologist and a Ph.D. in Counseling and Health Psychology from Stanford University.