One of my favourite podcasters is Dave Asprey, whom I’ve followed for years on the topics of nutrition and health. He is the author of The Bulletproof Diet, one book among others that I’m fond of recommending. Dave was being interviewed on another podcast, and the host asked him what his top 3 hacks are that listeners could do to improve their health. It caught my attention when Dave said his #1 hack is forgiveness. Whoa, I thought, forgiveness?


Stress affects our physical health.

The psychosomatic axis (psycho = mind, somatic = body) or mind-body connection has been thoroughly and scientifically documented, so I’m confident we can all agree that managing our thoughts and emotions significantly impacts our physical health. If we carry unresolved resentment, hostility, conflict, or hurt, it may manifest negatively in our physical body. Maybe it’s a sore neck, an aching back, or another malady? We don’t typically experience a physical problem and then look at our emotional mind for a possible solution, but perhaps we should. (Please note that we are not discussing severe or deliberate trauma or harm that may require professional assistance.)


“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.” 


Forgiveness can relieve stress.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning or approving. Forgiveness is about accepting the past and removing negative feelings about the incident or the person(s) involved. Forgiveness has little to do with the other person. Decisions and boundaries around your future with the person(s) are separate matters.


Forgiveness is all about us. Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release anger, bitterness, or grudges. We may need outside support to help us get to forgiveness, but forgiveness can only happen within us. It’s our choice, and it happens in our hearts. 

Many connect forgiveness with apologies, but they are not necessarily related. Finding true forgiveness is still an act of our hearts and is possible with or without apologies. 

Because forgiveness is such a powerful gift we can give to ourselves, it should be something we want to make part of our everyday life.


Where do we start to forgive?

Forgiveness often starts with finding empathy and compassion. As Brene Brown says, ‘most people are doing the best they can.’ I would add to this by saying, ‘they are doing the best they can with the awareness they have and the wounds they carry.’ In my experience, people are rarely deliberately trying to hurt you, and they may not even know they did. We all live in self-centred bubbles and aren’t aware of psychological wounds we may cause to those around us. This is something to keep in mind as we search for empathy and compassion – a prelude to forgiveness.


Self-forgiveness is important.

Forgiveness by finding empathy and compassion applies to ourselves as well. Self-forgiveness is essential for us to thrive and can be very impactful. We all notice our shortcomings, and self-recrimination is an inescapable part of being human. Nevertheless, forgiving ourselves is essential to becoming whole human beings: building resilience and opening our awareness. 


Forgiveness is hard work, but it’s worth it.

It requires deliberate action and sometimes repeated effort. I’ve found the act of writing a phantom letter to be a great tool. Without ever sending these letters, I can extirpate my feelings onto paper or computer and set the stage for genuine, heartfelt forgiveness. Similarly, journaling can be a big help. For me, Mark Twain’s words are a big motivator to forgive: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than anything on which it is poured.” 


How do we know if we’ve genuinely forgiven? 

When you think about the hurt, do you still experience upset in any form, physical or mental? Can you have positive thoughts about this person? Can you wish them well?


Our physical health and forgiveness

I like and respect Dave Asprey. His knowledge and expertise have significantly and positively impacted my life. So, when Dave says his #1 hack for better physical health is forgiveness, I’m listening.



How can you remind yourself to walk in another’s moccasins to find empathy and compassion as a prelude to forgiveness?


Who can you identify in your psyche that may need your deliberate effort to forgive?


What past events or aspects of yourself deserve your compassion and forgiveness?



With loving kindness,

Coach Billy