Do you know you have four secret superpowers for resilience? Now you will.

I’m about to share four words you’ve probably used various times in your life.

But…

Did you know these four words are key strategies for survival, happiness, resilience and…treasures you already have right here, right now?!

GRATITUDE. HOPE. CREATIVITY. STORIES.

THAT’S IT. I learned these resiliency secrets in the many trials, glitches and triumphs that followed my coma ay 18. Here’s an excerpt from my book, My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful” to explain a bit more:

Maybe my survival strategy wasn’t that complicated. Maybe it really was four of the most commonplace words and you might find on a Hallmark card. I came up with my ultimate recipe for resilience - Four Hardcore Skills for Detourists:

1.   Gratitude: When you know what you’re grateful for, you know what your values are. Your values act like arrows telling you what direction you need to take on your road.

2.   Hope: Is a job. It has to be created as a rope to hold onto in difficult times. It’s the fuel that propels us down our Detourist path.

3.   Creativity: We can create a safe container to be present with experiences we are still coming to terms with. Creative expression gently engages us with emotions that may be too overwhelming for words. You don’t need to be an artist to create. You just need an open heart and a mind willing to take a backseat.

4.   Stories: Telling our stories helps us process them. We gain confidence through our shared experience, and traveling is always less scary with a partner.

Even if you’re not ready to share your story, read a book. Hear about the courageous adventures of others. We learn by example, so when that detour surprises you, you’ll be able to pull those heroic stories out of your back pocket to guide your own hero’s journey. I also reminded students that long-term mindsets come with baby steps:

1.   Find one thing what makes you grateful.

2.   Be willing to fabricate hope when you can’t find it.

3.   Get creative and express yourself with a quick doodle.

4.   Swap some stories.

Thinking back, I realized that these four strategies were intricate threads woven throughout every peak and valley of my journey that had kept me afloat. Gratitude, hope, creativity, and stories could transform our struggles into gifts that would make life worth living again.


These four skills helped me through all kinds of obstacles - big traumas, little glitches, and surprises along the way. They can help you too! In my 2nd TEDx Talk, “How to Turn Trauma Into a Warrior’s Adventure,” I share how stories we hear all around us can help us find the magic in any obstacle we may face. That’s why I’m still here, right now.

On TEDx, I share how “Tiger Lilly” became my alter-warrior-ego to help use these tools to forge a victorious path forward. These four words: HOPE * GRATITUDE * CREATIVITY * STORIES were my healthy habits that allowed me to heal.

So what’s a healthy habit, anyway?

“A behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control. This might include regular exercise, or a balanced diet.”

When do we need healthy habits the most? When something in life doesn’t go as we expect…or….we come across a “detour.”

Healthy recipes make up a huge component of physical health. But what about mental health?

I’ve got a great recipe for you — a Recipe for the most healthy habit at all: Being Resilient.

My Favorite Healthy Habit Recipe
We can navigate any detour in life through creating our own “Recipe for Resilience.”

Here are the four secret ingredients. Ready?
· The Power of Stories: Sharing our story is healthy, as is learning our stories for ourselves, and allowing ourselves to be affected by the stories of others.
· Gratitude: We can cultivate hope through gratitude. Through simple exercises and habits, including the discipline or a daily gratitude list, we become grounded in who we are, once we know what our values are and what we stand for. Once anchored in ourselves, we can begin to access our inner-trust and compass to navigate our detours.
· Creativity: Once we become grounded in who we are through gratitude, we can use creativity to center ourselves and propel us forward. Through creativity, we are able to be with our experiences and emotions that may be too painful, frightening or overwhelming for words, as well as experiences that have yet to be acknowledged. So start with a doodle!
· Hope: Hope can start out as a “lie” we tell ourselves — or as one occupational therapist told me, “therapeutic lying.” Cultivating hope can be hard work, intentional fabrication, or willing suspension of disbelief — but it is our active duty. Give yourself a reason to be hopeful — even if you have to make it up for now.

What are your healthy habits? What’s in YOUR recipe for resilience?

A habit is something you do every day. So find one small thing you can do :

share a story

make a gratitude list

doodle on a napkin

find one thing to hope for

And keep it up!

Have any of these hardcore skills helped you through your own detour? Read some Detourist stories people have shared, and send me a note to share yours!

Amy Oestreicher