Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy – Sheryl Sandberg 


I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity—and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.

Loss, grief, and disappointment are profoundly personal. We all have unique circumstances and reactions to them. Still, the kindness and bravery of those who shared their experiences helped pull me through mine.

We don’t pretend that hope will win out over pain every day.

put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.”

1. Breathing Again

We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events.

I stressed that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

I have long believed that people need to feel supported and understood at work. I now know that this is even more important after tragedy.

Just as the body has a physiological immune system, the brain has a psychological immune system. 

“turning to God gives people a sense of being enveloped in loving arms that are eternal and ultimately strong. People need to know that they are not alone.”

Acknowledging blessings can be a blessing in and of itself.

Counting blessings can actually increase happiness and health by reminding us of the good things in life. Each night, no matter how sad I felt, I would find something or someone to be grateful for.

We all deal with loss: jobs lost, loves lost, lives lost. The question is not whether these things will happen. They will, and we will have to face them.

Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more.

2. Kicking the Elephant Out of the Room
Even people who have endured the worst suffering often want to talk about it.

Unlike non-question-asking friends, openers ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers without judging. They enjoy learning about and feeling connected to others. Openers can make a big difference in times of crisis, especially for those who are normally reticent.

I knew that people were doing their best; those who said nothing were trying not to bring on more pain, and those who said the wrong thing were trying to comfort.

3. The Platinum Rule of Friendship

There are two different emotional responses to the pain of others: empathy, which motivates us to help, and distress, which motivates us to avoid. 

For some, his physical paralysis triggered emotional paralysis.

learned that at times, caring means that when someone is hurting, you cannot imagine being anywhere else. This constant support was vital. 

hated asking for help, hated needing it, worried incessantly that I was a huge burden to everyone, and yet depended on their constant support.

I learned that friendship isn’t only what you can give, it’s what you’re able to receive.
What helped me more was when people said that they were in it with me.

I wanted those close to me to know I was there to help carry their troubles too.

4. Self-Compassion and Self-Confidence

Writing can be a powerful tool for learning self-compassion. 

Still, for many, constructing a story can lead to insight.

Now it’s clear that my compulsion to write was guiding me in the right direction. Journaling helped me process my overwhelming feelings and my all-too-many regrets.
because gratitude is passive: it makes us feel thankful for what we receive. Contributions are active: they build our confidence by reminding us that we can make a difference.
5. Bouncing Forward

We don’t have to wait for special occasions to feel and show gratitude.

As the saying goes: “In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends.”

After undergoing a hardship, people have new knowledge to offer those who go through similar experiences. It is a unique source of meaning because it does not just give our lives purpose—it gives our suffering purpose.
6. Taking Back Joy

But during the dark days of that summer, the Girls had checked in daily and took turns coming to California. By showing up again and again, they proved to me that I was not alone.

A life chasing pleasure without meaning is an aimless existence. Yet a meaningful life without joy is a depressing one.

When we focus on others, we find motivation that is difficult to marshal for ourselves alone.

Having fun is a form of self-compassion; just as we need to be kind to ourselves when we make mistakes, we also need to be kind to ourselves by enjoying life when we can.

But happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity.

7. Raising Resilient Kids

learned to respond to embarrassment with humor. He discovered that his own reaction to his disability influenced how others reacted, which meant he could control how he was perceived.

Sleep matters even more in adversity because we need to marshal all our strength

8. Finding Strength Together

We normally think of hope as something individuals hold in their heads and in their hearts. But people can build hope together. By creating a shared identity, individuals can form a group that has a past and a brighter future.

When we build resilience together, we become stronger ourselves and form communities that can overcome obstacles and prevent adversity.

The club that no one wants to belong to is incredibly bonding. Perhaps because none of us wanted to join, we cling to one another.

Just as individuals can find post-traumatic growth and become stronger, so can communities. You never know when your community will need to call on that strength, but you can be sure that someday it will.

9. Failing and Learning at Work 

Not only do we learn more from failure than success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely.

We’re too insecure to admit mistakes to ourselves or too proud to admit them to others.

Psychologists have found that over time we usually regret the chances we missed, not the chances we took.

When it’s safe to talk about mistakes, people are more likely to report errors and less likely to make them.

but he would always be there to remind me that I still needed to set ambitious goals.

10. To Love and Laugh Again

Now I encourage my friends and family to express their fears and desires to their partners.
You don’t need to justify your actions.

Couples who laugh together are more likely to stay married

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