The belief was that if we don't take justice into our own hands, no one else will act on our behalf, leaving the door open for more trespasses of our boundaries. And yet, ask yourself, Which is a bigger sign of weakness: letting the offensive actions of someone else determine your future health and well-being, or taking charge of your own destiny by choosing forgiveness over bondage to anger and fantasies of revenge? You could make a show of "strength" by stoking your anger and outrage indefinitely, but that's just illusion. You won't be weak by forgiving--just the opposite. As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, "Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." Forgiveness isn't the same thing as reconciliation. Most of the time, the goal after a painful conflict with someone we care about is to put the relationship back on track and move ahead with life. This is called reconciliation, a process that can serve to make us stronger and more tolerant of each other. In the case of most ordinary offenses, this is a good and healthy endeavor. Otherwise, we'd have no relationships at all, since it's impossible to go through life without occasionally stepping on each other's toes. But while forgiveness is usually a necessary step in reconciliation, the inverse is not true. Sometimes a person's trespass is so harmful or severe that continuing the relationship is impossible or inadvisable. It's always possible to forgive in such cases, for reasons we've already discussed. But reconciliation is a different matter involving evidence of real remorse, restorative restitution, and future guarantees of safety. When healing from a serious offense, that's a high standard that requires the genuine participation of both parties for success. As we employ forgiveness as a tool for healing depression, it's important that you don't confuse the two. If reconciliation is possible in your relationships that have been marred by offense and conflict, wonderful. You'll find that to be a source of healing as well. But if not, rest assured that forgiveness can still be your powerful ally. Spend an entire day imagining the purpose behind the actions of each person you meet. Even if someone is rude to you, ask yourself why you think they were rude and how you would act in the same situation.

Start taking notes of the interests your current friends and loved ones have. Look for ways that you can show interest in similar activities, especially with your co-workers. Find ways to engage people you previously didn't spend much time with. Talk to at least two people you have never had a real conversation with and write down three things about each person you did not know today: Write down three things that make you angry on a daily basis (e.g. traffic, telemarketers, your boss) and how you can turn those angry moments into growth moments. Read any book about getting along with people - any single book, whether it be about dating, getting ahead at work, or just making friends - and you'll find one common trait on top of the list. The single most important trait is confidence and it always will be. Unfortunately, when you're not confident in your social abilities, you'll start thinking things like "what if I say the wrong thing" or "what does he think about me?" So, to fully detach your conversations and interactions from the constant connection to yourself, you need to be confident. You should look good, feel good and know for a fact that everything you say is 100% what you think and believe - there should be no regrets. If someone doesn't like what you say or do, you should feel confident enough to move on quickly, learning from any mistakes you make and pushing to the next interaction. In an effort to show how pervasive crack cocaine had become in our cities, Bush held up a plastic bag marked evidence during his television address and said, "This is crack cocaine seized a few days ago by drug enforcement agents in a park across the street from the White House." The country was aghast to learn that drugs were being sold right next to the White House. However, the Washington Post later learned that Bush asked DEA agents to find crack in Lafayette Park. When they couldn't find a dealer there, they recruited a young crack dealer from another part of town to make a delivery across from the White House. Unfamiliar with the area, the dealer even needed directions to find the park.32 The push was on to make the public view crack and other drugs as a serious national problem, when, in fact, drug use in the United States had actually declined over the previous decade. The media highlighted crack as "the most addictive drug known to man," even though the Surgeon General reported that less than 33 percent of the people who try crack become addicted, while 80 percent of people who smoke cigarettes for a certain length of time get addicted.33 What was the result of such political and media sensationalism? By the end of the 1980s, Congress mandated much harsher prison sentences for the possession of crack cocaine than for the possession of cocaine powder. Since a greater proportion of African Americans used crack (whites used more cocaine powder), by the mid 1990s, three out of four people in prison for drug-related crimes were African American, even though many more whites used cocaine.34 Consider, also, the media coverage of the anthrax scare after 9/11. Millions of dollars were spent to combat anthrax, which affected only a small number of people. At the same time, a large number of deaths were caused by other infections.35 And so, while the availability heuristic can provide fairly accurate probability estimates, it can also lead to judgment biases that affect many aspects of our lives. The moral of the story--whenever possible, pay attention to the statistics--not the story!

It is well known that many cases of management fraud go undetected. How prevalent do you think executive-level management fraud is in public companies? Do you think the incidence of significant fraud is more than ten in one thousand firms (i.e., 1 percent)? First, answer yes or no. After you answer, estimate the number of firms per one thousand that you think have significant executive level management fraud.36 What if I first asked whether you thought there were more than two hundred fraud cases in one thousand firms? Would that change your overall estimate of the number of firms with fraud? Most people would say, "Of course not--it won't have any effect. I'm just indicating whether my estimate is above or below that number." But, in fact, changing that arbitrary number does affect judgments. For example, when auditors responded to these two conditions, the average number of frauds was sixteen in the first condition (i.e., ten out of one thousand), and forty-three in the second condition (i.e., two hundred out of one thousand). While ten and two hundred should be irrelevant, professionals' judgments of significant executive-level fraud almost tripled when the higher number was given. Why? They were using a heuristic called anchoring and adjustment. When using this heuristic, we select an initial estimate or anchor, and then adjust that anchor as new information is received. Problems arise when we use an irrelevant anchor, or when we make an insufficient adjustment from the anchor. A third possibility: the fear that you are feeling may be self-generated. It may be arising out of unskillful concentration. You may have set an unconscious program to "examine what comes up." Thus, when a frightening fantasy arises, concentration locks onto it, and the fantasy feeds on the energy of your attention and grows. The real problem here is that mindfulness is weak. If mindfulness was strongly developed, it would notice this switch of attention as soon as it occurred and handle the situation in the usual manner. No matter what the source of your fear, mindfulness is the cure.

Observe the fear exactly as it is. Don't cling to it. Just watch it rising and growing. Study its effect. See how it makes you feel and how it affects your body. When you find yourself in the grip of horror fantasies, simply observe those mindfully. Watch the pictures as pictures. See memories as memories. Observe the emotional reactions that come along and know them for what they are. Stand aside from the process and don't get involved. Treat the whole dynamic as if you were a curious bystander. Most important, don't fight the situation. Don't try to repress the memories or the feelings or the fantasies. Just step out of the way and let the whole mess bubble up and flow past. It can't hurt you. It is just memory. It is only fantasy. It is nothing but fear. When you let fear run its course in the arena of conscious attention, it won't sink back into the unconscious. It won't come back to haunt you later.

It will be gone for good. Restlessness is often a cover-up for some deeper experience taking place in the unconscious. We humans are great at repressing things. Rather than confronting some unpleasant thought we experience, we try to bury it so we won't have to deal with the issue. Unfortunately, we usually don't succeed, at least not fully. We hide the thought, but the mental energy we use to cover it up sits there and boils. The result is that sense of unease that we call agitation or restlessness. There is nothing you can put your finger on. But you don't feel at ease. You can't relax. When this uncomfortable state arises in meditation, just observe it. Don't let it rule you. Don't jump up and run off. And don't struggle with it and try to make it go away. Just let it be there and watch it closely. Then the repressed material will eventually surface, and you will find out what you have been worrying about. The unpleasant experience that you have been trying to avoid could be almost anything: guilt, greed, or other problems. It could be low-grade pain or subtle sickness or approaching illness. Whatever it is, let it arise and look at it mindfully. If you just sit still and observe your agitation, it will eventually pass.