If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you about a book I’ve been hearing about over the week. I find the name and what it talks about fascinating – Option B is a book about facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy.
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and current COO of Facebook, felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Here are some of the lessons from Option B.
The Importance of Resilience
Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity. It’s a skillset we develop over the course of our lives, and there are concrete steps we can take to build resilience long before we face any kind of difficulty.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
The Elephant in the Room: Talking about loss and hardship
We often have a hard time talking about adversity—but staying silent can make our loved ones feel even more isolated after loss or hardship. The book offers simple ways to speak with empathy and honesty when our friends are suffering.
After loss or trauma, we all hope to bounce back. Some of us manage to bounce forward. Learn how helping others gives our suffering meaning, allowing us to grow from the most difficult experiences of our lives.