How to Handle the ‘Shock’ of Good News

We can become too accustomed to processing bad news. But what about when life brings us a pleasant surprise?

Posted in , Aug 8, 2019

Getting good news at the doctor's office

“Good news is rare these days,” said the journalist Hunter S. Thompson, “and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond.”

Thompson may have been referring to the actual news headlines of his day, but I take his meaning more personally. The past year has brought some really difficult news into my life, from medical diagnoses for people I love to professional disappointments to parenting challenges.

I’ve worked on bouncing back from setbacks and living positively in a new normal, and I’ve grown as a person in the process.

But recently, a beautiful piece of good news came through the door—a medical treatment had proved successful for someone I love very much. And strangely, it took me a moment to be able to take it in, to embrace the sparkle of Thompson’s priceless diamond. I realized that just like when I faced bad news, there was a shock associated with positive news.

Life coach Triffany Hammond writes that the way we handle good news impacts our happiness. Specifically, if we let good news only take the form of relief, the “oh, whew” of the emotional world, we aren’t allowing it to fully permeate our minds and hearts.

She suggests focusing instead on the gratitude that good news inspires, the “oh, thank goodness” feeling that is a well-established way to feel more joy and inner peace.

Hammond also recommends replaying the scene of the good news you’ve just received, visualizing it in detail and taking a moment to bask in all the positive consequences that roll out from its initial delivery. When I visualize the doctor saying, “This was a very good scan,” for example, I can focus gratefully on her team’s medical skill, and anticipate summer ice cream shared with my loved one.

How do you cradle every ounce of a “good news” moment, cherishing it like the precious diamond it is?

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