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Forgiveness, Not Revenge

Dear Friends,

When you turn on the television or open your laptop there is much to worry about. The world is a troubled place. The news is filled with images and stories that horrify us. It certainly is hard to digest on a daily basis.

Fortunately, most of us do not live in a war zone, but we often have wars/conflicts battling away inside our subconsciousness. Old conflicts, new trespasses, real and imagined slights, they all serve to disquiet our peace of mind.

How might one quiet this cacophony of the mind? Frederick Ballet’s beautiful photo encapsulates what we all strive for:

Happy Place by Frederick Ballet
For me the beach and the sea are restorative and a 
source of perpetual peace and happiness.

There is a new study from the University of Pittsburgh that is also reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which might give us some answers. The study takes a look at the benefits of forgiveness against revenge in self healing after a traumatic experience. The authors wondered if forgiving one’s transgressor could help victims recover faster.

Take a look here:

Basically, they found that people who imagined taking revenge thought of themselves as “less refined, emotional, and intelligent, and more superficial, cold, and animalistic.” 

They say that “the research suggests that forgiveness is considered a moral response rooted in the virtues of mercy, unconditional love, and generosity. And, because of its prosocial nature, it is treated as morally superior to a strict adherence to justice.”

“People who forgave felt that they had acted in line with moral values, which in turn allowed them to feel rehumanized”

Karina Schumann, lead author of the research 
from the University of Pittsburgh

However, the authors emphasize that it is important to “understand that forgiving does not mean excusing the transgressor or releasing the transgressor from being accountable for their behavior.”

Personally choosing to forgive is a self healing process. It does not mean letting someone off; it just means letting the destructive pain inside go and curtailing the damage to yourself.

The SeeingHappy Team


The team here at SeeingHappy are all photographers who enjoy the process of creating memorable photos. We are a mix of educators striving to share their knowledge and psychologists dedicated to increasing happiness in the world.

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