“A traumatic event doesn’t doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives,” says Jane McGonigal.
She’s a gamer. She made “video games” her life; or more accurately, she made her life of “video games.”
Jane is an American game designer, and she is the Director of Game Research and Development at Institute for the Future. She’s petite, blond, curly, and totally kick-ass.
I met her on the internet.
Ted introduced us.
Ted is my daily lunch date.
Look how I made that sound almost like these are real people in my life. You know how I am. Book-shmook. Reality-shmeality. Virtual-shmirtual. It’s all truth from a tangible “person I met” once it’s inside my head.
The deal is this: I watch or listen to a Ted Talk once a day (See TED.com. Seriously. Go there right now.) I usually watch while I’m eating lunch. And that’s where I met Jane. She gave an amazing, off-the-charts Ted Talk that left me spinning, thinking, gaming in my head.
(Go straight to the source. Meet Jane. She says it better than I’m about to.)
She was in a serious accident that caused a concussion, and the concussion didn’t heal properly. She was left with the inability to do anything of value, it seemed, and she was entertaining ideas of suicide over the option of healing.
She had two choices: 1) die in this darkness, or 2) make this matter. (I can relate.)
Jane introduced me to the idea of Post Traumatic Growth – as compared to Post Traumatic Stress. Some people get stronger and happier after a traumatic event.
She says healing comes with four kinds of resilience: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Social. You can heal from a traumatic event by boosting these four kinds of resilience, and – even better – if you’re fortunate to skip the trauma, you can add ten years to your life by boosting your four types of resilience.
I’m not necessarily interested in adding years to my life, because I’m pretty stoked about the one that’s waiting for me after this. But. Growth? Healing? Resilience? Tell me more, Jane.
Physical resilience. Your body can recover from stress and heal itself faster.
Mental resilience. You can have more mental focus, more discipline, more determination, more will power.
Emotional resilience. You have the ability to provoke powerful, positive emotions, like curiosity or love, when you need them most. If you can experience three positive emotions for every negative emotion over the course of an hour, a day, or a week, you can dramatically improve your health and your ability to tackle any problem you’re facing.
Social resilience. This is born in gratitude and physical touch, and it’s multiplied when you can combine the two by gathering strength from friends, family, neighbors, or community.
Some people get stronger and happier after a traumatic event. A heart-wrenching tragedy can unlock our ability to lead a life of fewer regrets.
But how? How do you move from trauma to growth?
Jane says this. Feel free to try it now. (I did.)
1. Stand up and take 3 steps, OR make your hands into fists and raise them of your head for five seconds.
2. Snap your fingers exactly 50 times, OR count backward by 7 from 100-0. (100, 93, 86, etc.)
3. If you’re inside, find a window and look out. If you’re outside, find a window and look in. OR, Do a quick YouTube or Google image search for “baby [your favorite animal]”. (Pictures of baby elephants will seriously do something to your brain. Something great.)
4. Shake someone’s hand for six seconds, OR send someone a quick thank you by text, email, FB, or Twitter.
And that’s that. Access to the four elements of resilience. Just like that.
Jane made a game out of it: SuperBetter. She’s changing people’s lives. She’s adding years to life – and life to years – by teaching the world to be super and better. To claim Post Traumatic Growth.
People who experience Post Traumatic Growth say things like,
“My priorities have changed. I’m not afraid to do what makes me happy.”
“I feel closer to my friends and family.”
“I understand myself better. I know who I really am now.”
“I have a new sense of meaning and purpose in my life.”
“I’m better able to focus on my goals and dreams.”
Some people get stronger and happier after a traumatic event.
It doesn’t mean the widow doesn’t love her husband and want him back. It doesn’t mean the mother doesn’t grieve her babies and weep over each one she lost. It doesn’t mean it didn’t matter.
It means there can be life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to play.