Forgiving for the Sake of Health

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Whenever a magazine advertisement or a television commercial implores me to buy a certain product and become healthier in an instant, I use my common sense and know that whatever they are claiming about their miracle item is probably too good to be true. Tips for improving ones health always involve eating more vegetables, starting some intense workout routine, taking vitamins, routinely doing yoga, or sleeping a sufficient number of hours on a dream mattress. I am tired of reading the same old tips telling me to get 8 hours of sleep and reminding me I should be hitting the gym for an hour 5 times a week. Many of the suggested health tips online or in magazines seem to require major life changes that, although they may be good for your health, may not be easy to incorporate into your everyday hectic college life.

So as with every other magazine article, I was at first somewhat skeptical when I saw an article entitled "The Free and Simple Way to get Healthier (this instant)" in Glamour's January 2010 issue. But after reading the short article, I realized that the article’s advice may truly be a simple way to become healthier without making any major, time-consuming life changes.

The article said that a simple method to "reduce stress and improve your health" is to forgive someone. The author of the article, Laura Beil, explained how people who more frequently forgive others are less depressed and have lower cholesterol than individuals who hold grudges. Beil also opined that people who forgive more readily have blood pressure that returns to normal levels faster after a stressful event, and in general, people who tend to be the forgiving types exhibit all around healthier hearts.

After reading the article, I made a comparison between Mean Girls (like all Collegiettes do) and Biel's words. When Cady Heron was trying to make her life right again after confessing to be responsible for creating the Burn Book, she said: "When you get bit by a snake, you have to suck out all the poison. That's what I had to do, suck all the poison out of my life."

When someone says something to you that upsets you or does something that you believe is wrong, his or her actions are like he or she is injecting a poison into you. You can let that poison fester in the wound, eventually making its way through your veins and causing you harm, or you can do yourself a favor and suck out the poison by forgiving the person for what he or she may have done or said.

One important point Biel made was that just because you choose to forgive someone does not mean you have to admit that whatever he or she may have done was acceptable. She says "You are just deciding that your health and happiness are more important than holding onto anger." She also states that "It's a conscious choice to move forward. Every time those feelings arise, remind yourself that the past is the past, we're in the present, and it's time to be at peace."

In the past, the more stressed out I became over the course of the semester, the more I noticed that I was ruminating over situations in which I had felt that some of my friends had done something wrong to me. There have been minor situations like a friend cancelling plans after I had spent an hour getting ready, and more severe situations involving name calling and trash talking. No matter how big or small the wrongdoings were, I still found myself wasting so much time and energy being angry when I could have used that time and energy to focus on studying, going to gym, or otherwise enjoying life.

Obviously, do not forgive someone who did something horrible to you, but at the same time, accept that it happened and move on. Like Biel said "the past is the past, we're in the present, and it's time to be at peace." You may not have to be friends with the person who did you wrong, but find peace knowing that what happened cannot be changed. The only thing you can change is your feelings about it.

What Biel surprisingly did not mention, with which I, along with others struggle a great deal , is forgiving yourself when you wrong someone else. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. I have told a joke once or twice that offended someone. I have vented about a friend in frustration and she has overheard my harsh words. Regardless of whatever I have done, even if that person never forgave me, in order to move on, I have had to forgive myself. I am not a perfect friend, not a perfect girlfriend and not a perfect a daughter, but no one is perfect, and I have to accept that those facts are okay.

So for your own health, you make the choice: Are you going to let the friend who started dating the guy you clearly called first continuously make you angry, or are you going to move past it and accept that she got the guy? By choosing to forgive her, even though she may have done something that you believe is wrong, will lead you to having a healthier heart and make you a more content individual.

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