Happiness via…post traumatic growth

Happiness via…post traumatic growth

by Dr. Timothy Sharp (aka Dr. Happy

NB: this article comes from this week's free eNewsletter delivered every Monday Morning by The Happiness Institute team from HERE (you can sign up for FREE and make sure that you receieve happiness in your inbox every week! If you'd like that, JUST CLICK HERE). 

During the week just gone the world was shocked by the terrible events in Boston. Our thoughts to out to all who were affected, directly and indirectly, and in response we're focusing much of this issue on coping with and learning from trauma and adversity.


Did you know that in several large studies, when asked to name the most significant moments of their lives, many people refer to "traumatic" ones? That is, research suggests that negative life events and adversity can lead to increases in strength, maturity, wisdom and more. This phenomenon has come to be referred to as "post traumatic growth" and it describes that feeling almost all of us have experienced which is that although the event was unpleasant, sometimes extremely distressing, it did, in the long term, have some benefits; and after the passing of time, many of us look back and feel that although unpleasant, the negative event somehow made us wiser or more grateful or better in some way.


Following on from the previous paragraph we offer, this week, some tips for learning from and for making the most of traumatic or difficult events:

  • ask yourself what you can learn from this situation

  • try to look not just at what might be lost but what might be gained

  • focus on any and all related acts of courage, bravery, generosity and love

  • recognise what you (and others) did well despite the adversity

  • try to keep the situation in perspective

  • don't overly or excessively blame yourself

  • practice forgiveness where and when possible

As always, we hope this helps and as always, we'd love to know if you've ever become stronger or better in some way in the aftermath of a negative life event. If you're willing to share, we'd love to read your comments HERE on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page.


PS: before concluding we want to make it clear that we're not in any way suggesting that traumatic events are good or desirable or that we should seek them out! Whether we like it or not they will, however, occur and if positive psychology is about making the most out of life then we need to try our best to make the most even of negative life events. It should also be noted that in some instances, often in the more extreme cases, if anything positive can be taken from a traumatic event it may well take time (months or even years depending on the situation). 

PPS: if you're currently struggling to cope with a significant negative life event then help is at hand. We have a great team of clinical and coaching psychologists so feel free to get in touch if you'd like to know more about how we can help (CLICK HERE to get in touch).