The paradox of revenge – MBA Learnings

Carlsmith, Wilson and Gilbert of Harvard University published a study about the effects of revenge.

Individuals encountered a free-rider and were given the option to punish, not punish or forecast feelings about punishing the free-rider. Their positive mood was then monitored and measured. The results of the study are nicely summed up in 1 image.

The Paradox of Revenge
People who punished others felt significantly less positive because they continued to ruminate about their offenders while those who forgave moved on.

I think this idea applies beyond revenge. The more we give space to negative feelings like anger, ego and revenge, the more they take over our lives. As The Buddha summed up beautifully in a quote on anger – “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

There’s a lot that can go wrong. Forgive. Move on. And, when communicating with yourself, remember “Jennifer, relax!