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FIRST PERSON

Life Truly Is Too Short--So Forgive and Forget

June 12, 1995|JOYCE GABRIEL | STAMFORD ADVOCATE

The longer I live, the more it makes sense to forgive and forget.

This sounds like an obvious position, but I've come to it through experience. It may sometimes seem easier to vent your emotions, to sever a relationship, to have the last word and never say another, but it is rarely the best solution.

Especially when it comes to close friends and family; there are few things that are unforgivable.

I've come to this wisdom by making some mistakes and by observing the mistakes of others, as well as by trying to emulate those who have the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon when making judgments about others.

A little kindness and understanding go a long way. I heard a few weeks ago from a friend who had become distant several years ago, to the point where we only talked when I called her. One day, I just stopped calling, waiting to see what would happen.

More than a year went by. On the day she finally called me, I had been thinking about her, missing her, remembering all our good times and all we had been through together. That's why it was so easy, when she did call, to say, "I'm so happy to hear your voice."

And I was. We easily fell into our usual long, cozy chat, ranging over friends and family, past and present. There was no need for recriminations. Whatever had made her feel distant wasn't personal; it wasn't about me. I could either dwell in the past or move forward with my old friend. I chose to move forward.

Some people like to hold onto their hurts, feeding them with hate and anger until they solidify into grudges.

Life is really too short for all that.

Even when you are the injured party and the other person has wronged you, turning the other cheek, burying the hatchet--in short, forgiving and forgetting--are the way to go.

Replace the anger with kindness and tolerance. Force yourself to be benevolent. After a while, it will come naturally.

You'll become so good at this approach that it will begin to amaze you that people would choose to be less tolerant and, therefore, so much more agitated and unhappy.

You will learn to smile pacifically at these other, lesser mortals, murmuring "forgive and forget" as a kind of mantra.

Sometimes, they will even hear you and modify their behavior, thereby becoming happier and adding years to their lives. I have no scientific proof of this, just a gut feeling so strong as to elevate it to a revelation. Trust me.

And if I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll be able to forgive and forget.

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