Forgive For Good; A Prescription for Health and Happiness
Dr Fred Luskin
Harper Collins 2002
$24.95 hardback only
All right class, listen up. I don't think I have to tell any of you that being deaf is more than a physical disability. It is also all too often also an emotional one. To some extent this is unavoidable as we make our way through a world dominated by the hearing.
It wasn't that long ago that I thought it a foregone conclusion that being angry and having hurt feelings simply went hand in hand with hearing loss. Now, after reading Forgive For Good; a Prescription for Health and Happiness by Dr Fred Luskin, I am no longer so sure that that need be.
Personally I am not a huge fan of self help books. Far too many of them deal in new age-like platitudes which seem to be long on telling you what is wrong and short on revealing workable ways to deal with the situations we find ourselves in.
Like many of you I have often found myself very angry when dealing with the hearing world, especially with family members or friends who simply cannot seem to understand the implications of deafness and the depth of the problems that it imposes on everyday life. How many of us, how often, have heard the words: "Don't worry about it, it wasn't important anyway," as a dismissing hand is waved in front of our face, or " But you do so very well," when we attempt to share frustrations and have begun to simmer?
Now we all know that simmering, better known as anger, is not good for us. It raises the blood pressure, and seems to feed upon itself-- increasing proportionately as time goes on; leaving us feeling both depressed and victimized. But what to do about it? After years of researching various books on forgiveness I had just about given up hope that there was a practical answer to this question. I meditated. I thought positive thoughts. I tried to understand events from other people's point of view. And I read and read and read, and ended up donating more books to the used book sale at the library than I can count. And still I simmered at times, unable to rid myself of frustration at the lack of understanding I encountered almost daily.
Then I stumbled on Dr Luskin. What we have here, at long last, is a practical approach to dealing with anger and frustration. In easily understood language the author, who is head of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University that has worked with people with problems that far transcend mine-- mothers of slain children in Norther Ireland for example, sets forth in easy to understand 1-2-3 fashion the steps that lead to forgiveness and, ultimately, to a calmer and more peaceful life.
Forgiving wrongs is never easy, but with Dr Luskin at our side, we learn that it is only through forgiveness that we can cease being a victim of our lives and learn to live fully, even in the presence of a major disability such as deafness. The book is filled with fascinating case examples, and chapter by chapter builds an unassailable case that forgiveness is not only divine, but imperative to our mental and physical health, allowing us to let go of the past and live in the present in ways impossible when we wallow in bitterness, regret and recriminations. If you, like myself, have a tendency to replay the hurts of the past as you neglect the joys that surround you in the present, then this book may well not only be highly useful, but be life changing. I only wish I could sit every person over 12 down and MAKE them read this. The world would be far better for it.
The last chapter is a moving account of the author's attempts to deal with 9/11, proving once again that non of us are exempt from the need to forgive, and that that need is there even in the face of what would seem to be unforgivable.
I would love to hear from any of you who also have a book that has touched you, as this one did me. If you send me titles and brief descriptions of what your book means to you, I will include them in our next issue. I look forward to hearing from you. Write to me at email@example.com.
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