Day 7: Creating your Resiliency Roadmap

May 13, 2020 | Dona Locke | @DrDonaLocke | Comments (5)

Road to Resilience

Attending to positive emotions

We are nearing the end of our resiliency roadmap journey. I hope you're seeing all the tools you already had available and are adding to your toolbox. Welcome back for those of you who have been following the series all along. If you are just finding us--Welcome!  I'm so glad you've found us. As always, I want to encourage our new readers to take a look at our Introduction to the series and then work you way through the other pieces of the roadmap (recognizing your personal signs of stress, recognizing situational factors that cause stress, identifying positive coping techniques you already use, learning diaphragmatic breathing, learning other formal relaxation techniques, and cultivating helpful and healthy thinking patterns) before coming back to this topic.

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

This quote by Alice Morse Earle is perfect for this topic. However, I said this last time, and I want to emphasis it again today: sometimes bad things happen to us or we make a mistake (sometimes a big one). It is important to acknowledge that. But, it is also important to acknowledge in everyday there is always something (big or small) that brings us joy or for which we are thankful. On days that are full of joy, it is easy to bathe in the emotional aftermath of a day of positive experiences: joy, thankfulness, and  happiness. With all that lovely serotonin (a neurotransmitter related to mood) flooding our system, we feel great!  But what about those days filled with stress? How do we get a serotonin dose on those days?


Fairly recently on this newsfeed, I discussed some research into gratitude and experiments related to the impact of gratitude practice. I encourage you to review that full post for all the details.  To summarize, the results showed that when people focused on and recorded all the frustrations they experienced during the day, they had much higher negative emotion ratings and much lower positive emotion ratings ratings than when people focused on and recorded things they are grateful for. The impact of this practice is stronger if done on a daily basis (as opposed to weekly). Beginning a daily gratitude practice overall improved satisfaction with life, optimism, feeling connected to others, and improved sleep in comparison to a group that was not instructed to start a gratitude practice.

I wish to emphasize that gratitude is not a practice of ignoring the negative or stressful aspects of life--those are real, often very serious, and acknowledging those emotions is important. However, gratitude is about acknowledging the positive even as we process the negative.


If you've followed along in the resiliency roadmap series so far, it won't surprise you that I'm giving you homework. Just like other tools we're recommending, using the tools regularly and building them into your routines means you'll be more likely to use them in times of stress and be less distressed by stress when it happens.

With that, I hope you'll try to join me as I fight my own tendency to focus on my frustrations and hassles and instead focus on those things I'm grateful for or have brought me joy. Here's my two step homework assignment for us to do together.

  1. Try it out here. I'd like to start with having you comment below with 1-3 things you can identify today that bring you joy or for which you are thankful. Try to be as specific as possible so that your daily reflections can be unique. My entries for today are: 1) Remembering the chuckle I had when I heard my son singing to himself in his room. 2) My colleagues had a wonderful success in implementing a new follow-up service for patients who are COVID survivors; I'm so grateful I get to be a part of of this team and help. 3) I'm watching the moon each night (really afternoon as the moon is already visible then!) and enjoyed just recently seeing the full moon again. How about you?
  2. Make it a habit. Now, how can you do this regularly?  For me, I have an "appointment" with myself set for 7pm each evening. When that reminder pops up on my smart phone, I just enter a couple reflections right there on the appointment. Other people prefer to actually to keep a written journal. I have a colleague who keeps a photography version of a gratitude journal where she takes a photo everyday of something she is thankful for or brings her joy. What are the ways you can think of to begin building this habit?  What reminders and techniques can you use to get started and keep that record?

I look forward to hearing from you on the above. If you are interested in continuing a gratitude discussion, I'd encourage you to join in the gratitude discussion group here on Mayo Clinic Connect!

On Friday, we'll meet again and discuss the importance of social support and brainstorm ways to reinforce our social support networks in the time of COVID social distancing.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) blog.

Great thoughts again today. Here are the things that bring me joy today:
1. I bought myself a new little 11.6" Acer laptop that works in tablet, tent or regular laptop mode. It has MS Office so all my documents are there. It has Google photos so I can enjoy all my pictures. It is 10 times faster than my old desktop PC. And best of all, it is perfect for Zoom meetings.
2. My husband has given up on using his computer, but it sat here in our study reminding him that he doesn't remember how to turn it on. When I realized that, I asked him if I could use the space for my sewing machine. He was beyond happy. Now it really brings me joy to come into my study/sewing room and work on projects (and it really brings my husband joy that I'm happy – plus he doesn't have to see his old computer every day and be reminded of his losses.)
3. My sewing right now is almost all devoted to making face masks. I've made over 100 and I've made it clear to all the recipients that I wouldn't take money for them. I couldn't sleep nights if I profited from this disaster. BUT, the heartfelt gifts I have received after giving people masks have brought me so much joy. Today I got a beautiful print of a watercolor a neighbor did – because I realized she didn't have a mask and dropped off a couple for her yesterday. In the past week I've gotten soup, banana bread, a gorgeous card, and extra elastic so I could keep going making masks. So many people are so kind.

Thanks for asking us to take a minute and actually record these things. It does make a difference.


I have enjoyed your series . 1. Im grateful I awoke today to a nice morning . 2 Im still walking and was able to post some notes to my exercise ladies when we open up we will have a new DVD ,more advanced . 3 A good friend here that checks on me daily . On May 16 there is to be a special moon and 2 planet close by. So will wait and see . For your information


1. I explored a new path on my bike ride, and it was fun. Saw a new-to-me older neighborhood, and rode almost to the high school. Some busy streets at times, but good to mix it up.
2. The weather cooled off this evening, so my kids spent a good hour after dinner playing outside. I'm grateful for hearing them laugh and enjoy themselves, and for the quiet I had inside.
3. I enjoyed making cookies with the younger kids in the afternoon. We made no-bake cookies, the ones that are basically chocolate peanut butter fudge held together by oatmeal. I hadn't had them for a long-time. Good thing we ate a healthy shrimp and rice dinner!


I have enjoyed your series . 1. Im grateful I awoke today to a nice morning . 2 Im still walking and was able to post some notes to my exercise ladies when we open up we will have a new DVD ,more advanced . 3 A good friend here that checks on me daily . On May 16 there is to be a special moon and 2 planet close by. So will wait and see . For your information

Jump to this post

1. I am thankful for ability to communicate by e-mail, text, and phone. Programs like zoom and FaceTime even allow me to see my loved ones. 2. I am thankful for spring and the ability to be outside. 3. I am thankful for all those working to understand this virus and find ways to combat it, and find a vaccine that someday will protect us. I could go on and on because there are just so many blessings!

Please sign in or register to post a reply.