Get Some Post-Traumatic Growth – Skip the Trauma!

Palliative nurses have discovered that there is some commonality among us all when we are on our deathbeds…they have listened and developed this list of the Top 5 Deathbed Regrets. They are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work as hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is the kind of list that causes at least a moment or two of contemplation.

I was reminded of this list as I watched a TED talk by Jane McGonigal. Jane is a game designer, and she is one smart girl. In her TED Talk ‘The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years Of Life’, she talks about something called Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Unlike Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), PTG happens when you experience some traumatic event and come out the other end having been changed for the better. It’s like you are on your deathbed, you express your regrets, then you get a second chance at living life the way you ‘wished’! (And you actually do it!!)

Many of you have examples of this from your own life. Someone important to you became ill or died and after that you dedicated your life to a cause that was either dear to this person, or was associated with their illness or death. You suffered grave harm at the hand of another person, and you have decided to speak out to help prevent other potential victims from experiencing the same consequences that befell you. ?ou know what I mean…something bad happened, and you became better (happier, healthier) because of it.

Jane experienced a traumatic brain injury, and for three months she lay in bed…wanting to die. In her talk, Jane shares her story…and how it lead to her own Post Traumatic Growth. She also shares how we can all have the benefits of Post Traumatic Growth, without having to experience near death or significant trauma! She describes 4 strengths or habits of resilience that allow that to happen!

First: Physical Resilience

You can develop physical resilience by – every day – getting up and moving every hour. Yup, it is that easy. Take the stairs and skip the elevator. ?Do something with your body and notice what happens. Something else you can do – that is even more fun – is to regularly standing up and fire your fists in the air in a victory or triumph stance (you’ll feel so totally awesome doing this – don’t worry how you look!)

Second: Mental Resilience

There are many ways to develop mental resilience. Jan invites you to count backward from 100, by 7 – or snap your fingers 50 times. Small activities like this help you to build focus and willpower, and increase your mental resilience. Another strategy sure to increase your mental resilience is a daily practice of meditation. The Chopra Centre is starting a new 21-Day Meditation Challenge on November 5 – this might be your invitation to begin your life-changing practice.

Third: Emotional Resilience

For emotional resilience, Jane encourages you to look at a picture of your favorite baby animal. This strategy shows you that you can evoke strong emotions at will – just by changing what you focus on. Jane reminds us of the 3:1 ratio that Barbara Fredrickson explains in her book Positivity; for human beings to flourish, we need 3 positive emotions for every negative emotion we experience. I know that all I had to do was look at these pictures of my niece and nephews and I had huge amounts of serotonin coursing through my brain!! They definitely evoke strong positive emotions in me! ?(Be on the lookout for these scary creatures tomorrow at dusk!!)




Fourth: Social Resilience

Send a text to someone you care about – thanking that person for something they add to your life. Or, if you are right now standing in a long line at the grocery store, take time to turn and engage in some friendly banter with the person behind or beside you. We all get more strength when we connect with others. Connecting with another person increases oxytocin in the brain – and oxytocin is central to developing trust in another person. ?Trust is the foundation of social resilience.

Check out Jane’s talk when you have an extra 20 minutes. ?It’s well worth it!


So tell me…isn’t PTG better without the T? Have you got a story to share?

Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri provides practical strategies for mental health ‘at work’; impacting individuals and organizations?to increase resilience to change, energize engagement with the organization, and propel meaningful performance results that last!??

4 Replies to “Get Some Post-Traumatic Growth – Skip the Trauma!”

  1. My PTG came one night lying in bed when I realized that I could die any time and I did not what my funeral to be about how hard I worked – I wanted it to be about who I was and what I did for others. My realty then and now was/is that I have a company to run and commitments to live up to with customers, partners and employees. I had to be who I wanted to be inside that framework.

    I moved from focusing on WHAT we did in business at IBEX, To HOW and that started changing me in so many positive ways. How we treat each other in the office , how we select new team members, how we react when we make a mistake, how we share our frustrations with each other, how I share information with my business partners and how much of myself I share with others, to name just a few. I used to worry so much about what technology we use and what we spent on certain things and what our competitors were up to and ignore the how and the people side.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that story, Darryl! I truly appreciate it – and so will others reading it here. Your organization is one of the most inspirational, positive, and effective that I know! That is truly a reflection of you as a leader! Way to go!!
      Regards, Deri

  2. Deri,

    You never cease to amaze me. Thanks for sharing your photos, I think my serotonin just went up 10 fold. And, thanks for the tip on the Chopra Centre, I’ll definitely look into that.

    Henry (A.K.A. you-know-who)

    1. Thanks so much ‘Henry’!! I so appreciate all that you share here…you add a lot of positive energy to the blogosphere!! Keep it up!!
      Regards, Deri

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