The Forgiving Life offers scientifically supported guidance to help people forgive those in their lives who have acted unfairly and have inflicted emotional hurt. It does not minimize the devastation of that hurt or require reconciliation with the one who inflicted the hurt. Rather, it describes a process, followed with success by people around the world, to confront the pain; rise above it to forgive; and in so doing, loosen the grip of the depression, anger, and resentment that have soured life.

Noted forgiveness expert Robert D. Enright invites readers to learn the benefits of forgiveness and to embark on a path of forgiveness, leaving behind a legacy of love. Guided by thought provoking questions, engaging dialogue, and Enright's kind encouragement, readers can chart their own journey through a new life of forgiveness.

Table of Contents



I. The Basics

  1. A Theory of Forgiveness in Brief
  2. If You Are Traumatized

II. Overview of the Forgiveness Process

  1. How Telling and Listening to Stories Can Help
  2. Forgiveness Is a Process
  3. The Work Phase of Forgiveness
  4. The Discovery Phase of Forgiveness
  5. What Does It Mean to Forgive?

III. Getting Organized

  1. The Forgiveness Plan
  2. Measuring Your Forgiveness

IV. Forgiving Those Who Have Hurt You

  1. Your Forgiveness Pathway
  2. How Did You Do in Forgiving?
  3. Forgiving Your Parents
  4. Forgiveness Between Partners and Within Your Current Family
  5. Completing the Triangle of Forgiveness
  6. School Days, Work Days, and Other Days
  7. Surveying the Landscape From the Mountain Peak

V. Giving the Gift of Forgiveness to Others

  1. Questions as You Give Forgiveness to Others
  2. Giving Forgiveness Away to Our Children and in Our Communities
  3. Your Forgiveness Legacy

Appendix A: Process of How People Forgive Someone Who Was Unjust

Appendix B: Forgiveness Landscape Rating Scale

Appendix C: Personal Forgiveness Scale

Appendix D: The Forgiveness Guidepost Form



About the Author

Author Bio

Robert D. Enright, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

He has been a leader in the scientific study of forgiveness and its effects since 1985. Time magazine referred to him as "the forgiveness trailblazer." He is the author of more than 100 publications, including five books.

He and his colleagues have developed and tested a pathway to forgiveness that has helped incest survivors, and people in drug rehabilitation, in hospice, in shelters for abused women, and in cardiac units of hospitals, among others. His recent work has been in schools within conflict regions, such as Belfast, Northern Ireland, assisting teachers to deliver forgiveness programs to students.