Happiness isn’t possible without peace and peace isn’t possible without forgiveness. This is an issue with which so many of us, myself included, struggle. Despite my awareness of the toxicity and the futility of anger, it’s really difficult for me to let go of it when someone, especially someone with whom I share or have shared a close bond, hurts me. When someone hurts me unintentionally, I can let it go, but when it’s malicious, it’s really difficult to do so. Over the years, I’ve discovered some practices and beliefs that have helped me with forgiveness. Now, I just need to remind myself to practice them when my anger gets the better of me!

The first trick comes from Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees, my debut novel in which peace is the central theme. In the chapter, Remember the Bonsai, Silvia, in an attempt to help her brother Vince come to peace with their father, tells him the essence of a lesson she learned from Grandma Tucci. Her grandmother told her to remember a kind deed performed for her by the person with whom she’s angry. In this instance, Silvia was angry at her mother and so she recalled the beautiful Bonsai tree she had given her one year, knowing how badly she wanted such a plant. Remembering this kind deed helped her greatly to forgive her mother and feel peace towards her.

The second thing I try acknowledge when someone wrongs me is that this wrongdoing is coming from a place of pain. Frank, the Greco patriarch, is not always the best father and indeed, his failings come from a place of pain as manifested in his severe alcoholism–something he practices to take him out of his pain. The patriarch of the Tucci family in my forthcoming novel, A Very Rich Poor Man, is very similar to Frank in his shortcomings as a father and the fact that his bad parenting is a result of his inner pain.

The final thing I try to practice is not explicitly discussed in any of my novels but it’s the very essence of drama in novels, plays and films. It comes from Shakespeare’s quote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” I’ve created characters to push the story along, to take actions, to perform deeds. Although I’m not always sure of what my characters will do, they have been created with an inherent purpose. Likewise, I strongly believe that all people come into this world with an agenda and while this agenda is unknown to them at birth, it is deeply ingrained within their souls or their spiritual beings. So with that in mind, I can accept that a person’s wrongdoing is something that he needed to do or was meant to do. This realization really helps me to forgive.

Lastly, when I forgive someone who has wronged me, I don’t necessarily take that person back into my life, but I am able to stop carrying around the heavy chain of anger so that I can dwell in a place of peace and happiness.