By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, COKATO, MN In pursuit of promoting health through happiness, businesses and health clinics throughout (and expanding beyond) Wright County are joining the Bounce Back Project; and a few Dassel-Cokato members have brought the pursuit home, too.
The Bounce Back Project was started by the Buffalo Hospital in 2014, following the loss of two of its doctors. One died in a motor vehicle accident; the other took his own life within the hospital.
As stated on the project website, “These deaths caused us to pause and ask some important questions not only about how fragile life is, but about the choices we make each day.”
In response, the hospital decided to re-analyze its approach to providing health.
While attending a resilience conference hosted by the Minnesota Hospital Association, a handful of Buffalo’s physicians and hospital leaders learned of several tools that “promote resiliency and decrease burnout.”
The Bounce Back Project defines resiliency as the ability to bounce back from life stresses, and learn how to thrive when in the midst of stress.
“Our productivity over the past 20 years has soared, and within this increase in productivity has come an increase in our stress levels,” the website reads. “We may sacrifice accuracy and thoughtfulness for immediacy. Our work-life balance has plummeted, and burnout is being felt by many individuals.”
With this new insight, the Bounce Back Project was born; and a group promoting its intent has recently taken root in DC.
“The Dassel-Cokato Bounce Back group was gifted $10,000 by the Buffalo Hospital Foundation, to improve health through happiness in Cokato,” stated Bounce Back member Brenda Christensen. “Dassel-Cokato is a great place to live. Our residents care about each other, and gather around when we are hurting.”
“Dassel-Cokato Bounce Back is committed to improving health mental, physical, emotional, and social,” added member Annette Bohnsack. “We strive to increase resiliency, build social connections, cultivate positivity, and promote wellness.”
Toolbox to prompting happiness
When starting any project, it is essential to have the right equipment for the job.
The Bounce Back Project has listed its tools on its website, with the top three being random acts of kindness, three good things, and showing gratitude.
A random act of kindness is typically a small, unexpected gesture to benefit someone else. Examples of this may include buying a stranger’s meal or coffee, leaving an encouraging note, or helping a neighbor complete a task.
According to the Bounce Back Project website, “research has shown that performing an act of kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise that has been tested.”
Another tool that has provided positive results is known as “three good things,” and is Christensen’s and fellow Bounce Back member Teresa Harmala’s favorite tool.
The concept is to take some time each evening to recall three good things that happened earlier that day.
“The negative screams at you, but the positive only whispers,” Christensen commented. “I have found after participating in three good things, I start looking for the positive things going on in my life, versus focusing on all the negative. It makes me happier.”
Harmala had a similar experience with this particular tool, saying, “Sometimes, when I’m busy, I forget to appreciate the good stuff, and this tool helped me to remember to stop and do that on a regular basis. And even long after the two weeks of daily reminders, the thought still pops in my head, ‘OK, think of three good things,’ and I always feel happier when I do. I also find it especially helpful during trying times.”
She continued, “The whole experience has made me appreciate that positive thinking (like resilience) is like a muscle that you can make stronger with practice.”
The Bounce Back tool member Alisa Johnson said she most enjoyed was practicing gratitude. This involves writing a letter to someone who has positively impacted one’s life, and then (to take it a step further) reading the letter to that individual.
“The writing and sharing of a gratitutde letter was a beneficial experience for me, and can also be very impactful to the person you are writing the letter to/for,” Johnson shared. “Our community has faced many difficult and tragic events, and all of these tools can help people during these difficult times, and can also make individuals and our community stronger and unified.”
‘The Gifts of Imperfection’
In addition to the tools stated above and found online, the DC Bounce Back group will be starting a community-wide book club the end of January, following a presentation from Minnesota marathon runner Dick Beardsley at the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center Wednesday, Jan. 30.
A separate story on this event can be found within this newspaper edition.
The book club will be reading “The Gifts of Imperfection,” by Brene Brown, which Bohnsack says provides insight into wholehearted living through courage, connection, and compassion.
“I am inspired by the work of Brene Brown,” she shared. “‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ is a book about loving ourselves and loving others. Reading this book with a group of people is powerful. The conversations that happen strengthen our connections with one another.”
A limited number of free books is available through the DC Community Eduacation office. Community members can start their own reading/Bounce Back groups if desired.
“As a facilitator, my hope for my book read is that we share laughs, perspectives, and learnings from one another; to better understand ourselves, allow ourselves some grace, and develop the courage to be who we are,” stated Bohnsack.
For more information on the Bounce Back Project and its tools toward happiness, follow the featured link at dasselcokato.com.
Want to join the Bounce Back Project?
Text @bounce2017 to 81010
Like Bounce Back Project on Facebook
Sign up for the Bounce Back Project Newsletter through the featured link at dasselcokato.com.