In 25 years of hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah experienced more than a few “aha moments.” But there was one particular life lesson, she says, that’s always stood out from the rest.
“It was one man’s definition of forgiveness that changed my life,” Oprah says.
That man was Dr. Gerald G. Jampolsky, and he appeared on an episode of “The Oprah Show” that aired on January 4, 1990. During that show, Jampolsky asserted that the secret to happiness was forgiveness, which he described in a way Oprah hadn’t heard before.
“It really means letting go of the past. It really means letting go of our perception that we need to hold a grievance the rest of our lives,” he said. “If we really want to hold onto grievances, we’ll never be happy. It’s really a willingness to see the person in the light of love, rather than in the action that happens.”
Jampolsky went on to elaborate on the connection between forgiveness and the past.
“It really means letting go of the past that we thought we wanted,” he said. “We can’t really change that past, so it means really releasing the negative perception of it and coming back to the present.”
Reflecting on Jampolsky’s lesson decades later, Oprah can’t understate its impact on her. “That was a transcendent moment for me,” she says. “He said, ‘Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.’”
For many, including Oprah, it can be hard to forgive, but Jampolsky’s definition made Oprah understand forgiveness in a new light.
“You think forgiving means accepting what has happened to you,” she says. “Well, it is accepting that it has happened to you ― not accepting that it was OK for it to happen. It is accepting that it has happened and now, what do I do about it?”
Another life lesson from “The Oprah Show”: