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Post Traumatic Growth

In March- We advanced Passover by two days to be able to have our traditional dinner with friends before lock down.

In Sep- I flew to Israel to celebrated my Dad’s 80th but we ended up with a rushed spontaneous get together one week earlier before Israel full lock down. (My dad still declares he is not 80 yet).

On Dec 19th- we extended the 8th day of Chanukah, so we can light candles as a family after my eldest Mia was released from two weeks quarantine having come to visit us. We packed the day with so many magical moment for which I am grateful.

And on Dec 21st with 2H notice we celebrated ‘Express Christmas’ as we had to send Mia back to Israel after only 3.5 days with us in Singapore, so she can avoid the new decision to declare all countries red and send all new arriving passengers into yet another miserable motel quarantine.

This last week, I have felt immensely heavy, stuck and yes even sad. As a positive psychologist I know that emotional wellness is not about always being happy, but being able to embrace also the negative feelings, giving my self "The permission to be human" as my friend and positive psychologist Tal Ben Shahar puts it. And so I lay low for a week in my sadness looking at my calendar filled with plans we have made with Mia. Plans we canceled.

To be honest, Christmas dinner was sad. Mia made so many plans and insisted (even though we are Jewish) that we have a special fondu dinner, freeze our house, put up decorations, wear our red hats and snuggle in front of a Christmas movie. But without her, my family was not in the mood- my husband rushed to a business call, my son to study and my youngest refused to join me and so I sat there with my red bonnet, hot chocolate and Christmas movie, alone...

What a roller coaster of a year...

This year started with a high;

-Late Dec 2019 I fulfilled a life dream and spoke at TEDx - 800 people standing ovation and 21K views to-date reassured me I had an idea worth sharing. Grateful for the "Like a girl" movement for more compassionate leadership- which has proven to be even more relevant post Covid.

-New Years 2020 we celebrated as a family skying in Verbier - with my kids midst their IB studies- it was a blissful break.

-End of Jan we flew with Anna to Cambodia to volunteer in Tabitha house-making. An incredible week of hard labour and gratitude as we left having built new homes for 25 families on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. On the way back to Singapore we heard about Covid and the mask scare, so we stop to buy masks in a pharmacy in Cambodia.

Than, Covid had launched its most disruptive year ever into all of our lives;

-March was supposed to be the exciting beginning of my new speaking and counselling pivot career and I was booked out solid. By mid March, all my 15 confirmed bookings were canceled and my new business revenue sunk to a big ZERO.

-By the end of March- we were deep into lock down. Forced to isolate, fear for our loved ones, concern for the future.

-In April -My daughter's IB exams got canceled throwing her future graduation plans out of the window. And she celebrated her first legal drink for her iconic 18th birthday over zoom....

-Friends fell sick, elderly family fell sick, my husband and I ended up spending the second half of this year separated from our kids and each other for weeks, as we took turns in Israel helping Mia into her new life.

Clearly this year had its fair share of trauma for us all, but the question is HAVE WE GROWN?

Post traumatic growth is our ability to find growth in the darkest moments. The idea is not new. Etymology teaches us that crisis is also a reflection point (Chinese) or the last stage before a birth (Hebrew). Colloquially we often say often "The most beautiful rainbows follow the darkest storms" or "It is always the darkest before the sun rises".

The term 'Post Traumatic Growth' was coined by two psychologists - Tedeschi and Calhoun in the 90th and they call out 5 factors enabling post traumatic growth:

-Personal strength

-Seeing new possibilities

-Spiritual change

-Renewed appreciation of life

-Relating to others

While resilience refers to our ability to bounce back from challenging events, Post traumatic growth is about being able to grow post trauma.

So as I look back, there are many learnings and growth areas to be grateful for:

-Personal strength- Mental and physical health- I am grateful I was forced to dig deep into my knowledge as a positive psychologist to strength my own mental and physical health adopting many new healthy habits (from gut health to ice baths to daily meditation) and working with teams around the world to strengthen theirs- from leading online Yoga programs to developing and executing many corporate mental wellness workshops.

I am also immensely grateful to all the incredible health workers for stepping up to the challenges with passion and commitment. This year has proven that 'The only real Wealth is Health' and we should be investing in it every day.

-I am grateful for living my purpose every day and constantly evolving to see new possibilities - for the impact my "Lead like a Girl" TEDx is making on both men and women, for completing my INSEAD thesis amidst this all and being able to pivot my university course on The Science of Happiness into a thriving corporate consultancy business helping so many employees find their own resilience and joy at work at a time they need it most.

I am grateful that while my book ‘Dare to lead like a girl’ is not yet published - I had the gift of time to sharpen my writing (adding a chapter on post traumatic growth written from my hotel quarantine).

I am excited that I have signed a brilliant book agent, and have a prominent female leader writing my foreword- Cant wait to bring this book to the world by end 2021, so feel free to sign up to be the first to be invited the book launch.

And while this book is not out yet, I am grateful to Mike Vacanti and Teresa Quinlan as I am now an established co- author of the incredible book ‘Your belong here’ alongside 33 fascinating co authors -

I am grateful for opening a start up "Uppiness- up your game at work"- to compliment my corporate programs and bring play and fun at work to use positive psychology strategies for dealing with work challenges.

Renewed appreciation of life

The night we "shipped" Mia back to Israel, after we celebrated 'Express Christmas'- we projected fun lights on the ceiling (a gift we bought her for her much anticipated planned new year party). Lying there mesmerised by the lights Mia suddenly said-

"You know I’m super sad that the visit I have been dreaming about was only 3 days vs the planned 2 weeks, but thinking about it:

  • I got two weeks of much needed rest at the hotel quarantine

  • I got 3 amazing days to see and hug my family and all my friends

  • And I am going back to a place I love".

BOOM- suddenly my constant worrier became a warrior and received her biggest lesson ever- To focus on what she is gaining vs what she is missing and on what she can control - her mood- in order to deal with an otherwise totally uncontrollable and frustrating situation.

She gained new appreciation of life- life isn't fair and we can't control everything according to plan- and yet we have a choice- when life gives us Lemons, we can make Lemonade.

-Relating to others- But if you ask me what I am most grateful for this year- it is learning time and time again- that the no.1 driver of happiness and wellbeing is People, belonging and how we relate to others.

I am grateful to all my sisters and brothers who have been there for me and for my ability to be there for them.

I am grateful to the new tribe of HumansFirst movement which connected me with so many incredible like-minded people passionate to change the world.

I am grateful for 2020 biggest lesson to us all that- that we are all in this together!- and that caring for others HAS to be part of our agenda if we are to thrive as humans.

And after two days of crying, longing for the planned fun time with Mia- I received this picture from her- a picture that summarises what really matters- a picture which warmed my heart and dried up my tears- a picture of her in the warm embrace of her brothers and sisters from her leadership program- she has received the gift of Belonging...

My heart goes out to everyone who struggled this year- with loss of income, loss of health maybe even loss of a loved one.

And so at the closing of this challenging year- I want to offer a little gift which prevents sadness from turning into depression and that is HOPE-

Hope in the ability to find growth even in the darkest moments.

2021 HOPE published December 29, 2020 by Osama Hajjaj

From the bottom of my heart and my dispersed family- here is to wish you Health, Belonging and the Hope to turn this crisis into Post Traumatic Growth in 2021.

Deepest Love and Gratitude,


The Author is an ex CMO now Chief Magnificent Officer- an Organisational Psychologist, Executive Coach, Adjunct professor, Women advocate, TedX and international key-note speaker (Diversity and inclusion, resilience and mental health and Happiness at work), and this year and established (co) author and a saddened but grateful life-explorer.

Learn more from Dalia Feldheim and the rest of our speakers in our upcoming Global Leadership Summit. Register now to avail of the Early Bird Discount until 31st January 2021 at

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