Forgiveness, Mindfulness, and Health
Forgiveness and mindfulness have both been associated with a variety of salutary health-related outcomes. Though thought to be related to one another, very little empirical work has examined the association of forgiveness and mindfulness, including in the context of health. Consistent with theory regarding the forgiveness–health association and the definition of health behavior, we hypothesized that mindfulness would play a role in the relationship between forgiveness and health. Cross-sectional mediation-based analyses were conducted on data collected from a sample of 368 undergraduate students in southern Appalachia. Participants were 73.64% female and 88.32% Caucasian, with an average age of 21.62 years. Mindfulness played a role in the association of forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others, and forgiveness of situations with physical health status, somatic symptoms, mental health status, and psychological distress. In the context of the forgiveness–health association, mindfulness may play a primary role for forgiveness of others and largely a secondary role for forgiveness of self and forgiveness of situations. The role of mindfulness may be explained by the (un)forgiveness–energy hypothesis, such that forgiveness may allow energy to be invested in mindful processes. Religious/spiritual diversity may impact the association of forgiveness and mindfulness. As this study may be the first to examine mindfulness as a health behavior and only the second empirical study to explicitly examine the association between forgiveness and mindfulness, more research is needed to understand the relationships among forgiveness, mindfulness, and health.
KeywordsForgiveness Mindfulness Physical health Mental health Appalachia
This paper is based, in part, on the undergraduate Psychology Honors-in-Discipline Thesis of the second author. A previous version of this project was presented in a symposium at the 9th Annual Mid–Year Research Conference on Religion and Spirituality of Division 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) of the American Psychological Association, sponsored by the Department of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland.
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