Why we seek Revenge when Forgiveness is the Solution
A new study has highlighted how, when individuals watch movies, they enjoy seeing bad guys get punishment rather than seeing them be forgiven, outlining the human desire for revenge rather than forgiveness, which perpetuates a cycle of resentment and enmity.
Forgiveness is a tool rarely utilized today, despite being at the root of spiritual traditions, especially Christian Western culture, and virtually all therapy, self-help, and personal development work.
I, Recovering Man Founder Richard Joy, find this study fascinating as it points towards the very central truth that keeps us trapped in egocentric anger, anxiety, and resentment – the core of internal strife in life.
My own journey from a place of trauma, addiction and panic attacks literally hinged on my capacity to forgive.
While I didn’t understand the power of forgiveness and what it really is at the time, not knowing it’s more about you than the other person, it still had a totally transformative effect on me.
The below video explores how modern entertainment plays on our desire for anger and revenge, as well as how forgiveness is the way out of the cycle.
The study did find that even though people don’t enjoy forgiveness stories as much, people do find these narratives more meaningful and thought-provoking.
Matthew Grizzard, lead author of the study, said: “We like stories in which the wrongdoers are punished and when they get more punishment than they deserve, we find it fun.
“Still, people appreciate stories of forgiveness the most, even if they don’t find them to be quite as fun.”
Overall, the results suggest that a fair and just retribution is the “intuitive moral standard” that comes to us easily and naturally, according to Grizzard.
“But seeing a lack of punishment requires a level of deliberation that doesn’t come to us naturally. We can appreciate it, even if it doesn’t seem particularly enjoyable.”
If you feel troubled by resentment and unable to forgive (that includes others and yourself), you may want to check out my free book, From Lost Boy to Awakened Man below: