Forgiveness is like my coffee.

Just Kidding. Only coffee is like my coffee. But forgiveness is delicious, warm, soothing and energizing. So…samesies?

Here’s what I’ve learned about forgiveness through my own life experience and trial and error. All of which, I should note, are different than anyone else’s, so…I also get that not everyone is ready, or able, to be so loosey goosey with their forgiveness. But for me, when it comes to being happy, being super forgiving is the way to go. Not only do I spend less energy and time disliking someone or lamenting their faults, forgiveness has become like a habit and now I even forgive myself occasionally (what the whaaaat? I know, it’s awesome).

As a mom there are all kinds of things that end up piling up in the “not good enough” list. You know the one. Like when you remember you forgot something (ha!) or you realize you haven’t showered in four days or you fed your kids chicken nuggets again or the laundry starts piling up or you forgot to do something at work or… you get the idea. But, in forgiving others I’ve become comfortable forgiving myself, accepting my imperfections, and moving on. Forgiving myself for my faults has been liberating…but certainly not easy.

I had to practice forgiving others first. I wasn’t really ever setting out to forgive myself, I just knew I wanted to be happier and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by positive, caring friends who exemplify this habit without getting preachy (like writing a freaking blog post about it, geesh). So, I finally copped on and started practicing unconditional kindness and forgiveness just like them.

Let me just take a moment to explain “forgiveness” as I want to use it in this post. I don’t mean I’m like some condescending forgiveness fairy waving her wand over every a nay-doer. What I really mean is that I don’t blame another person’s very fabric of being for their actions. I remind myself that everyone has their own battles, their challenges and their struggles. Mean people aren’t happy, and unhappy people are doing their best just like we all are. For example, if someone says something rude to me, I try to take a breath and remind myself that it’s coming from a place of hurt, whether or not the hurt has to do with me (it usually doesn’t) and I just let it go. I don’t worry or obsess over it. I don’t waste energy stewing about it. I just let it go. I’m basically Elsa. (come on- that was funny)

So even though it would be pretty sweet to think of myself as some kind of forgiveness fairy, I’m not. I’m just trying to practice unconditional kindness. Like any habit, this forgiveness/happy thing took work. I had to actively remind myself not to take offense by other people’s actions or words…usually words. I didn’t consciously decide to practice forgiving myself, but after a few years of forgiving others it just happened. My friendships grew, my mental health improved and my confidence bloomed.

When I took responsibility for being happy life suddenly became fair. I wasn’t being dealt a difficult hand, I was in control of how I responded and I could laugh at the absurd, cry at the sad and move on. This really is the best part, because I’m the only person I can control. And when I’m in charge of my happiness, I’m happier.

Cool, cool. So we just act like jerks are doing their best and don’t hold anyone accountable? I’m not buying it.

Right, well, this is the tricker part to my personal success with forgiveness and definitely took the longest to work out. Actually, I’m still working it out. Anyway, setting healthy boundaries, getting out of toxic relationships, and holding others accountable for their actions is not mutually exclusive from forgiveness. I can forgive a person but get the heck out of dodge if they’re acting irrational, mean or selfishly. I’m not forgiving and forgetting. I’m just forgiving. I’m letting go of the part that’s making me miserable and moving onward and upward.

Ok, preachy pants, what started this?

Having kids was like the punch in my gut I needed. I wanted to be the best mom I could be and exemplify kindness to my kids so that they will be kind, too. It’s not perfect, I still struggle, but I want my kids to see that, too. Being kind isn’t easy, being happy isn’t easy, but showing my kids that nothing is handed to them, happiness isn’t situational and working hard on your mental fitness is so worth it…priceless.