Build Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth with Good Things, Gratitude and Joy

Whether you’re planting a garden or rebuilding a life, you’ll be more effective by using the right tool at the right time.

Herb garden on a windowsill? You could poke holes in the soil with a pencil.

Bulbs for next spring? A small trowel would do the trick.

When it’s time to plant a tree, though, a shovel’s a better tool for the job.

Since I suggest different tools to clients depending on their specific needs, I couldn’t help but notice the way Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg writes about using different tools to build her own resilience after the sudden death of her husband in Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (https://optionb, her recent book with Adam Grant.

Good Things

Shortly after his passing, when she was barely able to accomplish, let alone notice, even small wins like, say, getting out of bed, Sandberg began to practice Three Good Things.

In this video (https://youtu, Martin Seligman explains the practice of spending a few minutes before going to sleep writing three things that went well that day.

It works, he says, by shifting the focus away from what went wrong, thus breaking depression and building happiness.


Once Sandberg recovered to the point that things like going to work became, if not easy, at least routine, she shifted to writing three things for which she was grateful.

A wise move, since one benefit of practicing gratitude is that it helps people suffering trauma-induced stress to build resilience.

In terms of timing, Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research, chronicled in her book The How of Happiness (https://www that pondering three to five good things for which you’re grateful once a week is most likely to boost happiness, although she adds that finding the ideal timing for you is key to an effective gratitude practice.


As her resilience grew, Sandberg modified her practice once more when she shifted to writing about three daily moments of of joy. She credits this practice, suggested by her friend and co-author Grant, as one that allowed her to move away from wallowing in guilt and finally being able to give herself permission to be OK.

Two years after her husband’s death, she’s on a mission to raise self-compassion and joy, saying (https://www NULL.forbes, “if we want to help people recover and rebuild, we need to give them permission to recover and rebuild and we particularly need to give this to women.”

Goodness, Gratitude, and Joy

I hope you never experience a loss like Sandberg’s, but, since you’re human, it’s likely that at some point, you will face challenges, hardships and maybe even trauma.

When you do, remember that post-traumatic stress isn’t the only possible outcome.

By noticing the good, practicing gratitude and intentionally looking for and celebrating joy you can, like Sandberg, begin to set the stage for resilience and post-traumatic growth.


image: Pixabay; used by permission

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