Mental Health and Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can bring about many benefits, including improved mental health and overall well-being. According to a recent study conducted across five countries, forgiveness can be taught, practiced, and achieved through a secular approach, and the results can be significant.
In this article, we’ll delve into the science of forgiveness, explore the latest research on the topic, and highlight how it can be a public health issue.
The Science of Forgiveness Psychologist Everett Worthington’s decades-long academic career studying the science of forgiveness has yielded some valuable insights. Worthington realized that many couples were angry about perceived slights and real wrongs, and he realized they could only make progress if they forgave each other.
While forgiveness is often discussed by faith communities, Worthington found that a secular approach to forgiveness could also be a useful strategy in improving health. He developed workbooks that allow people to explore feelings of anger and resentment and learn to let go of them.
A Recent Study on Forgiveness Worthington’s latest version of the workbook, which is free to download in five languages, includes thought exercises to help explore specific transgressions and work through feelings of anger and resentment. The randomized study, which was conducted among 4,598 participants in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ukraine, Colombia, and South Africa, showed that completing the workbook exercises over a two-week period promoted forgiveness and led to a statistically meaningful reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms among users compared with the control group.
The study has broad implications for public health, according to Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Human Flourishing Program. VanderWeele, a co-author of the new research and organizer of the Harvard conference, said, “If the resource is widely disseminated, the effects on population mental health could be substantial.”
Forgiveness as a Public Health Issue The research conducted by Worthington and his colleagues highlights how forgiveness can be a public health issue. People experience injustices every day, and being wronged is a common experience. Forgiveness can change relationship dynamics and prevent many costly things that can happen in society.
Other researchers, like Robert Enright, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, have also focused on forgiveness for programs for young people. Their workbooks and teacher training programs have been shared with thousands of educators worldwide.
Conclusion Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can bring about many benefits, including improved mental health and overall well-being. The recent study conducted by Worthington and his colleagues showed that forgiveness can be taught, practiced, and achieved through a secular approach. This has broad implications for public health, and if resources are widely disseminated, the effects on population mental health could be substantial.