"Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies."
I recently read an article talking about the dietary guidelines published by the Weston A. Price foundation. There is a list of 20 dietary guidelines (you can view the original post here).
This list includes practical advice that pertains to traditional diets and lifestyles, including "Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do," and "Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder."
So far so good…then you get to #20: "Think positive thoughts and practice forgiveness."
Huh - forgiveness as a dietary guideline? That's new. The more I thought about it though, the more sense it made. Our attitudes and perspectives on life in the day-to-day can affect our health. We know that stress can cause a host of illnesses and disease and can wreak havoc on our immune systems. And we know that not forgiving can give way to bitterness which is a poison that eats away at us one day at a time. So what happens physiologically when we forgive - or when we don't? When we are going over and over something negative, our muscles tense, we clench our fists and our teeth, and our chests get tight.
All classic signs of stress - and stress causes disease. So what should we do? I read a story one time about a holocaust survivor who, decades later, met and recognized one of her captors in the concentration camp so many years ago. Those feelings of torture, and anger, and horror swelled, as she remembered the humiliation she went through and the friends and family members who were murdered at the hands of this man. She didn't know how to forgive this man - she couldn't. But she decided that she had to try. So she approached him and told him who she was. Then she said to him, "I forgive you."
…Even though she didn't feel it. Later she recalled that just as she uttered those words that she didn't even believe herself, the forgiveness came. It washed over her, and she truly forgave the man. And I'm sure she was healthier for it. So even if you don't think you can forgive someone for what they have done to you do it anyway - because it's the last and most important dietary guideline.