Three Good Things to develop resilience and optimism

May 2, 2018

This week we held our annual CEO & Trustee Patient Safety Summit. We spent two days with members, which is one of my very favorite things. Having leaders from across our state come together to tackle tough topics is inspiring and gives all of us at WSHA a deeper appreciation for our work.

As we learned during a session led by Dr. Bryan Sexton on Thriving vs. Surviving During Times of Change, providing a workplace environment that encourages positive emotions improves quality and patient safety. Positive emotions help us develop resilience to burnout. The great news is that resilience and optimism can be learned; they are not inherent. Dr. Sexton spoke at length of the science behind stress, fatigue and burnout, and the newest findings on building resilience.

Building resilience is possible by focusing on positive emotions – joy, serenity, hope, gratitude, inspiration, pride, love, awe and, a personal favorite of mine, amusement.

One technique is to list Three Good Things about your day, at the end of every day for two weeks. Empirical evidence shows this elevates your brain serotonin with effects that last months. (Duke University is leading an NIH-funded study on reducing stress and burnout, and you can simply text 73940 if you are interested in participating in this study or want more information.) A friend and I decided to share our Three Good Things for two weeks. Doing this with others can amplify its benefits.

I’ll close with my Three Good Things from Tuesday:

  1. My dad, who has Parkinson’s disease, made it to Seattle and was able to see my son Gus’ Little League game, where he pitched two no-hitter innings.
  2. I took my three sons to the lake at dusk. It was fun to see the joy they experienced watching the swallows dive-bombing for bugs.
  3. I have the huge privilege to represent genuinely caring people who are unafraid to face tough issues, such as exhaustion among health care workers and health equity.


Cassie Sauer
WSHA President & CEO


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