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I picked up Option B at the airport on my way home from my birthday shenanigans in November. Since I hadn’t gotten into the bandwagon of owning a kindle (and it is hard to find books written in English here), an airport bookstore it was. I needed something that would help me process my own struggles and move forward.
About the Book
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy was written by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, and Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton.
Sheryl lost her husband suddenly to cardiac arrhythmia while they were in vacation. Her world was turned upside down in a single moment.
The book tells her personal journey as she went through the excruciating grief of losing a spouse and finding the strength to put the pieces back together again. Throughout the book, she also shares lots of inspiring stories of people overcoming adversity from sexual abuse, illnesses, death of a child, job loss, natural disasters, and war.
Genre: Self Help/ Personal Development
Life Lessons From Option B
My main takeaways from the book that help me understand what was going on with me internally and how I can move forward:
1. The psychology of recovery
“Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive or permanent makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope.” – Sheryl Sandberg
When tragedy hits us, we often blame ourselves (personalization), believe that it will affect all areas of our lives (pervasiveness) and believe that it will last forever (permanence).
I did experience all three with pervasiveness as the most stubborn, lingering effect.
When you had to move to the other side of the world and start over from scratch in all aspects of your life, including your self-identity, it DOES affect all areas of your life. I had no routines to get back to and no friend or community to lean on.
If you’re lucky, you have family that supports you, a job to go back to, and a community to help pull you through the dark moment. Be thankful and utilize the resources you have to pull you through the valley quicker.
2. How to respond to grief of our own and of those around us
“Grief and anger aren’t extinguished like flames doused with water. They can flicker away one moment and burn hot the next.” – Sheryl Sandberg
We need to be gentle to ourselves when tragedy happens to us. Take care of ourselves and focus on incremental progress in healing.
When it happens to people around us, be kind and offer comfort. Too often people distance themselves unknowingly for fear of not knowing what to say. The book provides tips on how to speak about tragedy and offer comforts to friends who are suffering.
3. The idea of post-traumatic growth and pre-traumatic growth
“Post-traumatic growth could take 5 different forms: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.” – Sheryl Sandberg
I am sure most of us are familiar with the idea of post-traumatic growth. Sheryl also mentions the idea of pre-traumatic growth. We don’t have to suffer the tragedy ourselves to experience growth associated to those who experience it firsthand.
By reading these inspiring stories of people overcoming the most horrendous trials life can throw at them, we are building our resiliency muscle. Trials and suffering are a fact of life. It’s not a matter of “if” we’ll ever face it; it’s a matter of “when.”
4. The idea of building a resilient community
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I have learned the value of having a community around us. I have found that in my church and hiking peeps. Moving to the other side of the world caused me to lose all of that, which was biggest regret of my whole trial.
But, I am finding a whole new community. I have come across stories of you who are dealing with chronic illness, who have beaten cancer, who have dealt with the loss of a child or a spouse, and so on. You have overcome your trials and now you are shining a light for others who are going through it. So, thank you! You have given me and others hope that the bad times won’t last forever, and that there will be time for joy and laughter again.
Sheryl herself has created a community where you connect with others who are going through life challenges. Visit optionb.org or the Facebook group at facebook.com/OptionBOrg if you need help for yourself or your loved ones.
Together we can build a resilient community. That’s the purpose of our lives, isn’t it? To walk each other home.
Do I recommend this book?
Absolutely. I think this is one book that everyone needs to have in in their bookshelf (or kindle). If you are dealing with a tough time, this book can give you hope and a framework on how to navigate the uncharted territory of grief. They certainly didn’t teach that at school.
If you have someone who is struggling, you can learn on how you can provide comfort instead of distancing yourself for fear of saying the wrong thing. You can also gain from the pre-traumatic growth mentioned above.
Have you read the book? What do you think of it?
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