How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – the Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life
By Sophie Hannah
Scribner; hardcover; $20.00
Holding grudges is seen by many people as a bad thing, but what it out grudges, when managed correctly, are good for us?
What if they can protect and inspire us, and help us to clarify our highest values and priorities? What if they can even make us more forgiving?
The new book How to Hold a Grudge by internationally acclaimed crime fiction writer Sophie Hannah digs into the universal but widely misunderstood practice of holding grudges, and outlines a model for maintaining and embracing our grudges to live happier, healthier lives.
Hannah, known for her dry wit and riveting storylines, knows how to craft a mundane aggravation into a fantastic, Seinfeldian story. She breaks down more than 20 different types of grudges, including the Unreasonable Imposition Grudge and the Ill-Judged Joke Grudge; the different types of grudge-holder; when to let a grudge go; how to manage your grudge budget (or “grudget”); and how to honor your grudges and draw vital life lessons from them about your values, needs, and priorities.
Hannah writes, “Secretly we all hold grudges, but most of us probably think we shouldn’t, and many of us deny that we do. To bear a grudge is too negative, right? Instead, we should forgive and move on. Wrong.
“Actually, it’s not exactly wrong. It’s kind of right, but in the wrong way. Confused? Then read on, and you’ll soon understand what I mean.
“Of course it’s essential to think positive if you want to live a happy life, but even more crucial is how you get to that positive. Denying your negative emotions and experiences in the hope that they will disappear from memory and leave you feeling and thinking exactly as you did before they happened will lead only to more pain, conflict, and stress in the long term.
“So what should you do instead? The short answer is: you should follow the Grudge-fold Path.
“‘What the hell does that mean?’ I hear you ask. Read on and you will soon know. For the time being, though, I’ll give you a different short answer (which is actually the same answer but expressed normally rather than in weird jargon I’ve invented): you should hold a grudge, and then forgive and move on, while still holding your grudge. Does that sound like a contradiction?…
“Am I seriously going to encourage you to hold grudges? Yes, I am. And I’m going to start by asking you to consider these questions: What if everyone who has ever told you, ‘Don’t hold grudges because it’s bad for you and not very nice,’ was wrong? What if your grudges are good for us? What if they’re the psychological equivalent of leafy green vegetables that nourish and strengthen us? What if we don’t have to accept the traditional definition of the word ‘grudge’ – the one with negative connotations – but can instead create a better and more accurate definition that takes into account the full power of grudges? What if grudges can ward off danger? What if we could use them to help ourselves and others?
“I’ve got some great news! It’s not a case of ‘What if?’ All of these things are true. Holding grudges doesn’t have to fill us with hate of make us bitter and miserable. If you approach the practice of grudge-holding in an enlightened way, you’ll find it does the opposite; it makes you more forgiving. Your grudges can help you to honor your personal emotional landmarks, and you can distill vital life lessons from them – about your value system, hopes, needs, and priorities – that will act as a series of stepping-stones, pointing you in the right direction for the best possible future. ”
Even if you’re not a grudge enthusiast, Hannah gives real-life examples, like “The Fat Comment” and “The Ignoring of the Big News,” that may inspire you to go out and find your own grudges to nurture.