Shark Week, Forgiveness and You

Books Respect Well-being


Key Point: I wrote about the heroism of Louis Zamperini in Laura Hillenbrand’s New York Times best seller Unbroken, when the book was first published last year. The perseverance of Zamperini overcoming more than a month at sea battling sharks intent on eating him and his mates was highlighted in the Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week, which recently aired on cable TV across North America. What I believe most remarkable about the Unbroken story, however, was NOT about beating off relentless, attacking sharks… Instead, I was in awe of the incredible tale of survival that took place after. These same men were captured, and suffered the actions of misguided Japanese guards that cruelly terrorized POWs during WWII. And even more powerful than the message of perseverance was the story’s conclusion, a beautiful message of peace and forgiveness. Why do people hold grudges at work and elsewhere? Here’s the deal… Forgiveness is the right thing to do because it is the healthiest thing for you!

To better understand the benefits of forgiveness, I’m referencing a very credible source: The Mayo Clinic. Forgiveness does NOT mean denying that another person hurt you. But you can forgive the person without forgiving the act.

The Mayo Clinic describes the following as the benefits of forgiveness:

1. Healthier relationships.

2. Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.

3. Less anxiety, stress and hostility.

4. Fewer symptoms of depression.

5. Lower the risk of alcohol and substance abuse.

It is not often easy to forgive. And if you read about the incredibly dehumanizing abuse absorbed by POWs, especially Zamperini in Unbroken, you might think it’s impossible. Yet that’s exactly what happened in Zamperini’s life and he experienced all the benefits described above. Read Unbroken to become humbled by the beauty of the human spirit as it rises way above ugliness and bitter days of darkness.

Character Move (As recommended by the Mayo staff):

  1. Determine the value of forgiveness and the importance to YOU.
  2. Reflect on the facts of the situation. Examine how you’ve reacted and how the combination has affected your life, health and well being.
  3. When you are ready, actively choose to forgive the person who has offended you (and remember forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation or reconnecting with the person).
  4. Move away from your role as a victim. Release the control and power the offending person and situation have had on your life.

And the most wonderful outcome, as happened in Unbroken, you may no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt… Even better, you find new levels of compassion and understanding.

Forgiving human “sharks” in The Triangle,