Forgiveness In Our Daily Lives

I was a little disappointed initially to see Forgiveness as one of my top VIA Character Strengths (authentichappiness.org).   Forgiveness, like courage, is viewed as one of the strengths that is episodic. You only need to be forgiving when you’ve been trespassed against. You only need to be brave in the face of fear or challenge.

But I don’t think that’s true. I think those strengths are useful every day. I can tell because I used to be very low in Forgiveness and I know that this ability has made a difference in how I feel every day.   Depending on how I choose to interface with the world, I may feel infringed upon or taken advantage of with the most minor inconvenience or insult: Aggressive driver? Ignore me in line? Don’t say hi in the hallway? Not friendly at check out? A questionable comment?   Trespass at your own peril.

It may be hard for some of you to imagine living this way but there is a whole subpopulation who walk around feeling self-justified a lot of the time (I can still be in this group on bad days). But in general, I’ve developed a fairly high tolerance for what boils down to foible humans bumbling through life. Being high in Forgiveness means that I know that each of us are just trying our best, mixed results notwithstanding.

Courage is the same way. Most of us are not asked to go to war or to fight for our lives on the street very often (I hope). But courage is required in small ways each day too: telling a loved one we’re hurt, asking a question in class or a meeting, advocating for self in a store or restaurant, admitting you’re wrong, changing careers, going to see the doctor for a suspicious mole or bump. The need for these strengths are not episodic. They’re daily and continual.

These days, I’m a big fan of my Forgiveness strength. The strength makes me oddly patient with people, but ironically as an Activator (one of my StrenthsFinders strengths) I’m eager to get started and impatient.   I’m sorry to confuse you. I still confuse myself. But that’s OK, I’m only human.

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