Forgive for Good
A Proven Prescription
for Health and Happiness
Geoffrey W. Sutton
In Forgive for Good, Luskin invites us to forgive for our own benefit. His well-written book reads like a story—indeed, he has many stories to tell as he reveals each of the three-part scientific-how-to drama.
In part one, we learn about grievances. We create grievances when we review the times we have been mistreated. Luskin calls this replaying of hurts “renting space in our minds.” We tend to focus on blame rather than recovery. And we focus a lot on the pain we have experienced. Another problem we may have is creating rules or expectations that are unenforceable yet, despite our lack of power to force someone to abide by these rules, we can become obsessed with punishing the offender for breaking the rules. Luskin isn’t denying our right to feel angry or pain. He wants to help us avoid hurting ourselves.
Part two is the story of forgiveness. Luskin speaks from experience as the director and cofounder of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. In addition to research, he has helped people learn to forgive.
Like many others, Luskin begins with the offensive experience and asks us to be clear about what happened and how we feel about that experience. Forgiveness is a choice because we can forgive and restore a relationship with the offender or not. Either way, we get to move on without present lives. In this section, he reviews research on forgiveness but of course, since the book was written, we have nearly two decades of support for forgiveness.
The third part is titled, Forgive for Good. Here, Luskin offers pathways to healing. I w ill note several strategies.
Change the channel on your remote control. We have a choice when it comes to the focus of our attention. So, we can choose to turn away from past hurts and focus on such things as gratitude, beauty, and love.
Breath of Thanks. This is an encouragement to slow down during a day, focus on our breathing, breathe and relax, and repeat the phrase, “Thank you.”
Heart Focus. This strategy encourages us to follow a relaxation routine and experience a pleasant memory.
Forgiveness: The Practice. This is an intentional focus on safe and beautiful scenes that bring peace rather than the feelings of upset over past hurts.
When hurtful experiences recur, Luskin suggests an approach in the acrostic, PERT, which stands for Positive Emotion Focusing Technique. We are encouraged to engage in relaxation steps and positive imagery.
In later chapters, Luskin offers strategies to combat thoughts about expectations and focus on healing.
For a list of other books on forgiveness, CLICK HERE.
Luskin, F. (2002). Forgive for good a proven prescription for health and happiness. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.