English poet and essayist Alexander Pope is credited with
saying, "To err is human, to forgive, divine." Nearly 200
years later, researchers at the University of Tennessee in
Knoxville believe forgiveness may not only be divine, but
a good way to stay healthy.
The survey of 108 college students gathered data on specific
situations in which they had felt betrayed, and whether the
students seemed to have forgiving personalities ("trait" forgiveness)
and how recalling the situation affected them during the interview
("state" forgiveness). During the interviews, the researchers
monitored students' vital signs, including blood pressure
and heart rate.
Trait forgiveness was associated with lower blood pressure
readings, while state forgiveness was associated with lower
blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, signs of sympathetic
nervous system arousal (e.g., the stress response) that elevated
when betrayal events were brought up also seemed to return
to normal faster in students deemed "forgiving types."
Think of the ability to forgive as the ability to reduce
stress in your life. We all know how debilitating stress can
be, particularly in the long-term; in fact, considerable research
shows that stress can contribute to chronic diseases such
as cancer and heart disease. So don't hold a grudge - it's
bad for your health!
Want to learn more about stress relief? Visit www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/wellness/index.html.
Lawler KA, Younger JW, Piferi
RL, et al. A change of heart: cardiovascular correlates of
forgiveness in response to cardiovascular fitness. Journal
of Behavioral Medicine October 2003:26(5), pp373-93.