Forgiveness makes us happier: Research suggests not only that happy people are more likely to forgive but that forgiving others can make people feel happy, especially when they forgive someone to whom they feel close.
Forgiveness improves our health: When we dwell on grudges, our blood pressure and heart rate spike—signs of stress which damage the body; when we forgive, our stress levels drop, and people who are more forgiving are protected from the negative health effects of stress. Studies also suggest that holding grudges might compromise our immune system, making us less resistant to illness.
Forgiveness sustains relationships: When our friends inevitably hurt or disappoint us, holding a grudge makes us less likely to sacrifice or cooperate with them, which undermines feelings of trust and commitment, driving us further apart. Studies suggest that forgiveness can stop this downward spiral and repair our relationship before it dissolves.
Forgiveness is good for marriages (most of the time): Spouses who are more forgiving and less vindictive are better at resolving conflicts effectively in their marriage. A long-term study of newlyweds found that more forgiving spouses had stronger, more satisfying relationships. However, when more forgiving spouses were frequently mistreated by their husband or wife, they became less satisfied with their marriage.
Forgiveness boosts kindness and connectedness: People who feel forgiving don’t only feel more positive toward someone who hurt them. They are also more likely to want to volunteer and donate money to charity, and they feel more connected to other people in general.
Forgiveness can help heal the wounds of war: A research-based forgiveness training program in Rwanda, for instance, was linked to reduced trauma and more positive attitudes between the Hutus and Tutsis there. A study of people who learned forgiveness skills in war-torn Sierra Leone found that they reported feeling less depressed, more grateful, more satisfied with life, and less stressed afterward.
Forgiveness lowers stress levels: According to a study done by Hope College researchers, one of the benefits of forgiveness is lower amounts of cortisol.
Forgiveness keeps your heart healthy: One study suggests that people who hold on to grudges tend to have higher heart rates, while those who are more empathetic and able to forgive tend to have lower heart rates.
Forgiveness lowers pain: Having a forgiving heart may lower both emotional and physical pain, according to a study done by Duke University Medical Centre researchers. Out of 61 subjects who suffered from chronic back pain, those who were more likely to forgive reported lower levels of pain, leading researchers to believe that “a relationship appears to exist between forgiveness and important aspects of living with persistent pain.
Forgiveness lowers blood pressure: Studies show that forgiveness is linked to lower blood pressure.
Forgiveness extends your life: According to one study, after testing adults ages 66 and older and determining their ability to forgive, those who were more forgiving in nature tended to live longer.
Forgiveness gets you out of that angry mode: When you’re chronically angry, you’re in a flight-or-flight mode — which can have effects on blood pressure and heart rate, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. But when you truly forgive, that leads to decreased stress, which can help to tamp down the anger.
Making amends helps you forgive yourself: In research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who asked for forgiveness for a wrongdoing were found to be more likely to feel like it was OK to forgive themselves.