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People who are more forgiving can better handle stress.

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Being forgiving to yourself and others can protect against stress and the toll it takes on mental health, according to a new study in the Journal of Health Psychology. 

Researchers looked at the effects of lifetime stress on a person’s mental health, and how more forgiving people fared compared to people who weren’t so forgiving. To do this, they asked 148 young adults to fill out questionnaires that assessed their levels of lifetime stress, their tendency to forgive and their mental and physical health.

No surprise, people with greater exposure to stress over their lifetimes had worse mental and physical health. But the researchers also discovered that if people were highly forgiving of both themselves and others, that characteristic alone virtually eliminated the connection between stress and mental illness.


Study author Loren Toussaint says he believes “100%” that forgiveness can be learned. Many therapists work to cultivate forgiveness in sessions, he says, and his own prior research has shown that saying a short prayer or a brief meditation on forgiveness can help people take the edge off.

Tara Brach talks about forgiveness a lot and she has some excellent guided meditations:

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