The positive impact of forgiveness - Deepstash
What other cultures can teach us about forgiveness

What other cultures can teach us about forgiveness

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The positive impact of forgiveness

The positive impact of forgiveness

Forgiving someone can reduce our stress levels, risk of heart disease and mental illness. It can prevent cognitive decline in later life, help you earn more money, and be happier.

Forgiveness is part of every culture, but how we choose to offer forgiveness are affected by our cultures and our personal psychologies.

Forgiveness in a cultural setting

  • In many languages, "forgiveness" does not translate well. Ghana, for example, has more than 50 languages, which makes choosing a definition for "forgiveness" tricky.
  • It is normal for a younger person in Ghana to offer forgiveness to an older person and hide their annoyance, even if the older person is at fault.
  • With couples in Ghana, an act of forgiveness is accompanied by physical gestures, such as kneeling, prostrating, clasping their hands. Simply saying sorry is not enough.
  • Chinese cultures are not used to the term 'forgiveness'. Translated into Mandarin Chinese, [kuānshù] is quite formal and gives the impression that the committed offence was very serious.

It is then important to be considerate of other people's differences, whether it is a result of their culture or worldview.

Forgiveness should be culturally appropriate

Individualists use forgiveness to relieve a burden and clear their conscience while collectivists use forgiveness to preserve social harmony, even if the individual still feels resentment towards their transgressor.

Western countries like the US or the UK tend to have more individualistic cultures, meaning personal gain is put before helping the wider group. In collectivistic cultures like Asia and Africa, the group is put first.

Two separate types of forgiveness

  • Decisional forgiveness is colder, cognitive, and analytical. The collectivist is concerned with what is the best thing for everyone else.
  • Emotional forgiveness is offered to satisfy an emotional need and is more common in individualistic people.

The separate types of forgiveness are sometimes used to explain the difference between collectivistic and individualistic approaches.

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