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Forgiving nuns may reap rewards

The Benedictine nuns who responded to the loss of one of their sisters in a collision between their car and another driven by an allegedly intoxicated driver by forgiving the driver surely did so out of the goodness of their hearts and devotion to their faith.

But the nuns may also reap some benefit from their forgiving attitude. Forgiveness, it seems, may help keep a person healthy.

Recent studies exploring the potential physical and psychological effects of forgiving oneself and others have found that forgiveness may have cardiovascular benefits and may improve outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries, for instance. An older study found a correlation between people's inability to forgive and the severity of their chronic low-back pain. Forgiveness therapy has been investigated as a possible intervention for people with fibromyalgia. While there's no definitive evidence that forgiving will make you live a longer, happier life, the body of research points toward such a notion.

For more about the connection between forgiveness and health, read this. And here's a nine-step guide to forgiving -- not always a simple task, but one that could pay you back in spades.

Has forgiveness played a big role in your life or helped you manage a difficult situation? Please tell us about it in the comments section.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  August 5, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Prevention , Psychology  
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I have been seething with hate and resentment my whole life. Not only has it kept me young, but it has also made me an important personage in the Republican Party!

Posted by: senbilboredux | August 5, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Imagine how much healthier that nun would be today is we had a a Federal government who enforced immigration laws.

I imagine she would be 100% healthier.

Posted by: gth1 | August 6, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Step 3 in "Nine Steps to Forgiving" notes that one does not have to condone the actions of the offender to forgive the offender. However, the nuns' comment on critics of the DUI's illegal immigrant status seems to condone that status, and is unnecessary to follow the "forgiveness" steps.

Posted by: DoTheRightThing | August 6, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

That is, of course, if one lives long enough to forgive the other...

Posted by: dgal | August 6, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

On a daily basis we need to practice forgiveness. When our child behaves inappropriately or when our spouse forgets to say goodbye, or even forgiving ourselves for eating the last of the ice cream, or when someone cuts us off in traffic. Then there is life forgiveness… yes maybe our parents really were trying to do the best they could!

Posted by: kkneedham | August 9, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

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