For many, the new year is a kind of magic eraser that wipes the slate clean. It’s a chance to start over. An opportunity to do things differently. A percentage of us typically resolve to eat healthier or drink less. Others vow to get more exercise, achieve more, or make relationship changes.
But have you considered that the most important resolution you can make for 2016 may not even be on your list?
According to Dr. Fred Luskin, a senior consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, “If you want to make a resolution, choose to be kinder to yourself and to the people around you. When there’s a choice to be kind, choose that.” For Luskin, kindness towards self and others includes the practice of forgiveness.
Why are kindness and forgiveness important resolutions?
Luskin says it’s because, “Forgiveness is about personal power.” The act of forgiveness yields real physical and mental health benefits. Forgiveness also “influences our attitude, which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love.”
Although forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or condoning the actions of those who have hurt you, it offers a pathway to inner peace and acceptance of ‘what is.’
Luskin’s research indicates that forgiveness has the power to “reduce anger, hurt depression and stress.” Moreover, forgiveness has been shown to increase “feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self-confidence.”
New Year’s resolutions are about finding ways to improve ourselves and feel better mentally and physically. By adding forgiveness to your list of 2016 resolutions, you can begin the New Year in an even more positive way.
Try these simple forgiveness strategies:
- Instead of focusing on your hurt feelings, learn to look for what’s good in your life. Pay more attention to the story of what is going well than the one of past hurts.
- Put your energy into meeting positive goals rather than dwelling on the experiences that caused your pain.
- Stop mentally replaying your old story. It’s so last year.
- Make a list of the emotional experiences you want to have in 2016 (ie, fun, laughter, trust, etc.). Look for ways to get more of the positive experiences you want with people who are available to you.
- Remember, living well is your best revenge! Create a new story and live it!
Stay tuned in 2016 for more tips and techniques to reduce stress and anxiety and to enhance your life.