A Tale of Forgiveness
A wise woman and her young disciple were walking down the street. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angry man in a carriage drove haphazardly by the two, insensitively pushing the woman out of his way. She landed in a ditch filled with muddy water. The woman yelled after the man in the carriage, “May you have everything you want!” The disciple, surprised by the wise woman’s response, said: “I’m confused. Why did you say that to a man with such horrible behavior?” The woman replied, “Because a happy man wouldn’t have thoughtlessly pushed a woman into a ditch.”
Do you agree with this woman’s response?
In my book The Bounce Back Book, I offer many tips for embracing forgiveness and liberating yourself from anger and bitterness—even in the most challenging situations.
Here are a few quickie strategies to free you from your resentments starting today!
Say a Prayer
Whenever angry feelings about a person who’s harmed you enter your mind, tell yourself: “We are all good, loving souls who occasionally get lost.” Pray for this person to find their way back to a happier place—in the same way the woman in this story prayed for her offender.
Focus on Gratitude
Resist seeking happiness from the outside in. Instead, focus on gratitude exercises to bring happiness from the inside out. If you allow your mood to be at the mercy of unpredictable events and unreliable people, your happiness will be forever on a chaotic roller coaster ride! Happiness must always be an inside joy! When you are tempted to focus on all the ways the world has done you wrong, instead count your blessings by making a list of the five aspects of your life that you appreciate. It is good practice to purposefully end your day this way to keep focused.
Look for the Lesson
Many Buddhists consider huge difficulties to be a sign you’re an old soul—the bigger your misfortunes, the closer you are to enlightenment. Whether you believe this or not, it’s certainly cheery to reframe all your life’s bad events as tests of your character. If you feel particularly tested right now, ask yourself what the heck you’re being tested for! Patience? Compassion? Resilience? Forgiveness? Open-mindedness? What strengths must you develop further? Now consciously go out there and develop them!
Recognize that when you respond with hate to hate, anger to anger, bitterness to bitterness, you are ironically becoming part of the problem. Choose to resist becoming like your offender and instead put in the conscious effort to remain a loving, soulful, happy person. In fact, don’t just tell your offender “May you have everything want.” Use this for a mantra to tell yourself—and re-focus all that energy of resentment into the energy to move forward to get what you want.
Check out Karen Salmansohn’s work and original prints at her website and/or say hi to her on Facebook.