By now, you’ve probably figured out how much we LOVE the Science of Happiness videos on the SoulPancake Youtube channel. This time around, the topic is forgiveness, but not necessarily how you might think of it.

Instead of looking at forgiveness as an “agreement” between two people to move beyond a conflict, we’re looking at what the simple act of forgiveness can do for your own personal happiness.

Like the other videos, this episode of Science of Happiness gauges the general happiness levels of volunteer participants, and then asks them to participate in an experiment. Participants were asked to think of a person with whom they are holding a grudge, and then write a “letter” to that person about how the contention makes them feel.

As in the other experiments, after people thought through their grudges (and even spoke their concerns out loud to a mirror), they showed increased levels of happiness – on average, and 8% increase!

But why?

This “selfish” side of forgiveness is something we overlook – it doesn’t even require the other person! Whether or not you ever say something to the person you are forgiving, the internal act of letting go of grudges will boost your levels of happiness.

The amount of tension we carry when we harbor anger impacts our happiness whether or not we’re consciously thinking about it. We usually hold grudges against people who we once had strong relationships with, and hanging onto the pain of a “falling out” with this important person is enough emotional distress to affect your happiness in an ongoing way.

From an individual standpoint, simply allowing yourself to forgive someone who has wronged you takes a weight off your shoulders – holding grudges is emotionally exhausting.

It’s absolutely obvious when watching the videos (both the experiment, and a follow up video where a participant calls his sister) that even facing the grudges offers some peace of mind.

By forgiving those who have wronged us, even just for ourselves, we remove a point of pain embedded within – and that means more room for a life of happiness!