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Harvard study finds forgiveness can be good for mental health

BOSTON – A new study finds that learning how to forgive may bring us all some peace of mind.

In today’s polarized political and social climate, we may find it harder than ever to forgive others, but a new study finds that forgiveness can be taught and is good for our overall mental health. 

A team of researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied more than 4,500 adults from five different countries who had been hurt or offended by another person in some way. They found that participants who completed self-directed exercises in a forgiveness workbook reported reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety after two weeks compared to those without access to the workbooks.

The workbooks encouraged people to acknowledge and not suppress their hurt feelings but also to try to empathize with the other person. They said forgiveness does not mean condoning the painful actions of others or not seeking justice, but rather replacing the ill will towards the offender with goodwill.    

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