Happiness is such a sneaky state of being. It’s relative, it’s individual, it’s defined uniquely, and it’s deceptive. Sometimes when we wish for something that we think will bring us happiness, we find out that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Happiness in a relationship takes commitment and work, give and take, and thoughtful compromise. But what’s the secret? There are top 10 lists available on the internet and they include family and relationships, meaningful work, positive thinking to name a few. I’m going to focus on an item that I heard in a sermon recently. That item is forgiveness. When the minister mentioned that forgiveness was a secret to happiness, it really caught my attention. Upon further research, an article by Dr. Fred Luskin who heads up Stanford University’s Forgiveness Projects, says that forgiveness can make a notable difference in your physical as well as emotional health.

Now, you might immediately call this out as nonsense but let’s entertain the thought. I know two guys who are brothers. They got into an argument about 5 years ago and since then have held a grudge towards each other with one of the brothers expressing zero interest in putting the disagreement behind him. When you hold a grudge, you lose! It grinds on you, affects your mood, and sometimes hurts your family relationships as well. This is a perfect instance where the lack of forgiveness is having a negative impact on not just two lives, but several family members as well.

But if forgiveness is a secret to experiencing happiness, why don’t people act in a more forgiving way? Long story short, it takes work. It takes a maturity level that can ultimately say, “Yes, I can be a bigger person, swallow my pride, forgive, and move on.” But once you get this figured out with your own complex ego, what a liberating experience. Huge weights will be lifted off of your shoulders and you’ll feel a sort of ‘ahhhhhhh’ expression working through your system. Believe me, as a person who’s gotten to experience the relief of forgiving others, it’s a feeling that really boosts your spirits.

So, give it a try! If you can think of someone right now that you’re harboring bad feelings towards, give them a call, send them an email, or send a card by mail. Like the Beatles song, “All You Need is Love.” We, as a society, could really use this right now with political arguments tearing apart families, relationships, and building descension in all kinds of social circles. Let’s not forget that it’s still politics with two sides and some people are on this side while others are on that side. Agree to disagree and move on! And if the discussion became heated and things were said, step up, put on your big boy pants, and forgive those who have wronged you.

Give it a try…can it really hurt?