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Michael Vick and Other Lessons in Forgiveness

Forgiveness is suddenly a hot topic, and I'm not referring to mortgage modifications or loans that can't be repaid. I'm talking about folks saying they are sorry and letting go. Consider:
  • The football world can't shut up about Michael Vick, who served time for his role in a vicious dog-fighting ring. He's back in the NFL now, lighting up scoreboards, and sports talk nation wants to know: Does he deserve to be forgiven?
  • Florida Governor Charlie Crist plans to pardon Doors lead singer Jim Morrison for lewd and lascivious behavior during a concert in 1969. Morrison, dead for 39 years, could care less. But the lame-duck governor thinks "an injustice has been done." He wants to clear Morrison's name and leave office with a clean conscience.
Forgiveness in any form is a powerful tool for self-improvement. In my last book, A New Purpose, co-author Ken Dychtwald and I had this to say:

"Holding a grudge can literally kill you. Forgiving is the antidote. The toxic effects of anger are real. Your body participates in your emotions. When your feelings are out of whack it affects your health and well-being.

"Forgiveness can lessen stress by 20%, according to Dr. Frederic Luskin, a senior fellow at the Stanford University Center on Conflict and Negotiation and a leading forgiveness researcher. He found that the act of forgiving leads to far less depression, heart disease, panic, back pain, nervousness, restlessness and sadness, and a stronger immune system. Forgiving leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self-confidence. It may even open the heart to kindness, beauty and love."

Why bring all of this up in a blog that is mostly about kids and money? Forgiveness has measurable economic benefits. In one study we cite in Purpose, financial advisers who underwent forgiveness counseling boosted their monthly income by 24%. Their minds were at ease and they became more productive.

So forgiving isn't just liberating; it's a cash generator. Try it. Talk to the kids about letting go. Set an example. That's what Gov. Crist is doing in his own bizarre way.

Which brings me back to Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who has resurrected his career. Of course he deserves to be forgiven. Vick's most productive skills by far are those he exhibits on the football field. As a matter of principle, that's where we should want him -- where he is most productive. It's good for football; it's good for anyone trying to move on.

Photo courtesy Flickr user yourdon.