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Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg Adam Grant

“A remarkable achievement: generous, honest, poignant. Option B reveals an aspect of Sandberg’s character—her impulse to be helpful. This is a book that will be quietly passed from hand to hand, and it will surely offer great comfort to its intended readers . . . The candor and simplicity with which she shared all of it is a kind of gift . . . Helpful, moving.” —Caitlin Flanagan, The New York Times

“Sandberg is wise and honest and funny and practical in ways that are likely to stay with the reader. Her deeply personal book is more than memoir; interspersed with devastating scenes are equally powerful strategies for coping when your world has gone tilt.” —Tracy Grant, The Washington Post

“I recommend this inspiring book to everyone around the world. None of us can escape sadness, loss, or life’s disappointments, so the best option is to find our Option B.” —Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner

“Sheryl writes about her own heartbreaking experience with a rare honesty. Then she and Adam translate her personal story into a powerful, practical guide for anyone trying to build resilience in their own lives, communities, and companies. It’s hard enough to resonate with readers. It’s even harder to help them take concrete steps toward a better future. Option B does both.” —Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“Illuminating, original, and deeply inspiring, Option B is one part riveting memoir, one part heal-your-heart boot camp, one part stories of others who learned to thrive in the face of profound loss: a practical, vital contribution to the literature on loss and resilience.” —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

“Like her debut volume, Sandberg’s Option B is an optimistic book, even if one riven with sorrow. She argues that after adversity and loss, there is an opportunity for ‘post-traumatic growth.’ Thus the book is in part a moving memoir.” —Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker

“Sandberg’s new book is tough, full of the raw, painful emotions . . . Option B [has] advice for people who are grieving. But it’s also a book for nearly everyone—people who may not know what to say or do in the wake of a tragedy. It’s also a deeply optimistic book, framed around the question, what’s next?” —Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic

“Intimate, personal . . . Within Option B there are lessons for leaders who want to make organizations more resilient, help employees recover from a loss—or crisis—and create workplaces that are more prepared to deal with failure.” —Jena McGregor, The Los Angeles Times

“Admirably honest, optimistic . . . Sandberg shares a great deal of herself and what she has learned. At its core the book helps those who have been felled by despair: a guide both for those who have directly suffered loss and for those who are close to people who have.” —The Economist

“Being among the most powerful women in the world didn’t spare Sheryl Sandberg from the sudden death of her husband, not quite two years ago. Option B is at its best when pinpointing specific tips for coping with overwhelming grief. Sandberg writes how she created new rituals, such as taking a moment at dinner each evening to express gratitude for something positive that day, and declaring ‘small wins.’ Day by day, the book says, these small victories can become building blocks to a return to emotional equanimity.” —Diane Cole, The Wall Street Journal

“Option B tackles a universal subject, and offers up a path to happiness based not on fantasies of immortality but on the reality of the sorrow of life itself . . . The book is also a practical guide for handling grief and adversity. With her coauthor Grant, Sandberg lays out anecdotes and research on perseverance and resilience . . . Finding growth and ultimately joy is the project of Option B. Sandberg makes a point of emphasizing this aspect.” —Emily Peck, The Huffington Post

“Option B chronicles Sandberg’s devastating loss, her grief and how she emerged from it with a new perspective on life. The most affecting parts of the book recount not just Sandberg’s grief, but that of her children . . . ‘Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive or permanent, but resilience can be,’ she writes. ‘We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives.’” —Associated Press

“Moving . . . A memoir of the loss of a husband and finding a path forward beyond the grieving process. Writing with Grant, a highly rated professor at Wharton, Sandberg explores how to weather the storm of grief, applying concrete skills—in addition to more complex theories of psychology about how to find meaning in life-changing circumstances. A book that provides illuminating ways to make headway through the days when there doesn’t seem to be a way forward.” —Kirkus

“Helpful and hopeful Sandberg draws on her own pain around the sudden death of her husband, and shares what she has learned about resilience with a tone that is raw and candid. Those suffering as well as those seeking to provide comfort should find both solace and wisdom” —Publishers Weekly

Review

There’s a song ” Everybody hurts” by R.E.M, within these pages would find a very human compassionate accounting of a woman with wealth with what many some could say has a great job as chief operating officer(COO) of Facebook and you see that she can also hurt, wether rich or poor, whichever race or creed, everybody hurts and eventually somebody close or distant dies and then one will be going through the whirlwind of mind of loss. This talks to all.
This is an honest and well done piece on grief resilience and just not giving up and fail and fail better, words of inspiration and hope are carved into this work. Many advices wether from the authors own words or researched and quoted by her and her research team. No wasted words or complexity in its telling there is something in her for every human upon this earth every heart at conflict with itself with what destinies lay ahead. She talks of her husband she lost, family, and community with common pains talking and getting through, and there is a getting through.
I love the way how she tells of how journaling and just writing and bleeding upon the page can help and did help for her wether for loss or just any conflict or for the just for the past or dreams of the future.
Her writing shows her skill to connect and write with uncomplicated lines, empathy, researched.
To be read a few times over, a necessary look at how we all can pain and can get through it inevitably with help and advice.
Sandberg does indeed balance emotional and research together, integrating them in word fluidly and left me wanting more.

 

Option b.org is a nonprofit initiative set up by Sanberg and the income from her book goes to the organisation whose main objective as from the website is
“OptionB.Org is dedicated to helping you build resilience in the face of adversity—and giving you the tools to help your family, friends, and community build resilience too. Here, you can read and share personal stories, join groups for solidarity and support, and find information from experts.”



“Poetry, philosophy, and physics all teach us that we don’t experience time in equal increments. Time slowed way, way down. Day after day my kids’ cries and screams filled the air. In the moments when they weren’t crying, I watched them anxiously, waiting for the next instance they might need comfort. My own cries and screams—mostly inside my head but some out loud—filled the rest of the available space. I was in “the void”: a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe. Grief is a demanding companion. In those early days and weeks and months, it was always there, not just below the surface but on the surface. Simmering, lingering, festering. Then, like a wave, it would rise up and pulse through me, as if it were going to tear my heart right out of my body. In those moments, I felt like I couldn’t bear the pain for one more minute, much less one more hour. I saw Dave lying on the gym floor. I saw his face in the sky. At night, I called out to him, crying into the void: “Dave, I miss you. Why did you leave me? Please come back. I love you …” I cried myself to sleep each night. I woke up each morning and went through the motions of my day, often in disbelief that the world continued to turn without him. How could everyone go on as if nothing was different? Didn’t they know?”

“Hearing the despair in my voice triggered by the letter, Adam flew back across the country to convince me that there was a bottom to this seemingly endless void. He wanted to tell me face-to-face that while grief was unavoidable, there were things I could do to lessen the anguish for myself and my children. He said that by six months, more than half of people who lose a spouse are past what psychologists classify as “acute grief.”
Adam convinced me that while my grief would have to run its course, my beliefs and actions could shape how quickly I moved through the void and where I ended up. I don’t know anyone who has been handed only roses. We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next? 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.”

“Yet try as we might to prevent adversity, inequality, and trauma, they still exist and we are still left to cope with them. To fight for change tomorrow we need to build resilience today.4 Psychologists have studied how to recover and rebound from a wide range of adversity—from loss, rejection, and divorce to injury and illness, from professional failure to personal disappointment. Along with reviewing the research, Adam and I sought out individuals and groups who have overcome ordinary and extraordinary difficulties. Their stories changed the way we think about resilience. This book is about the capacity of the human spirit to persevere. We look at the steps people can take, both to help themselves and to help others. We explore the psychology of recovery and the challenges of regaining confidence and rediscovering joy. We cover ways to speak about tragedy and comfort friends who are suffering. And we discuss what it takes to create resilient communities and companies, raise strong children, and love again. I now know that it is possible to experience post-traumatic growth. In the wake of the most crushing blows, people can find greater strength and deeper meaning. I also believe that it is possible to experience pre-traumatic growth that you don’t have to experience tragedy to build your resilience for whatever lies ahead.”

“As I blamed myself less, I started to notice that not everything was terrible. My son and daughter were sleeping through the night, crying less, and playing more. We had access to grief counselors and therapists. I could afford child care and support at home. I had loving family, friends, and colleagues; I marveled at how they were carrying me and my children quite literally at times. I felt closer to them than I ever would have thought possible.”

“Acknowledging blessings can be a blessing in and of itself. Psychologists asked a group of people to make a weekly list of five things for which they were grateful. Another group wrote about hassles and a third listed ordinary events. Nine weeks later, the gratitude group felt significantly happier and reported fewer health problems. People who enter the workforce during an economic recession end up being more satisfied with their jobs decades later because they are acutely aware of how hard it can be to find work. 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. Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

“Not everyone feels comfortable talking openly about personal tragedy. We all make our own choices about when and where and if we want to express our feelings. Still, there’s powerful evidence that opening up about traumatic events can improve mental and physical health.14 Speaking to a friend or family member often helps people understand their own emotions and feel understood.”

“Writing to others and to herself turned out to be key to Catherine’s ability to rebound. For as long as she can remember, Catherine has kept a journal. “Journaling isn’t exactly meditating,” she told us. “But it helped me quiet myself and reflect. I was able to put words to my feelings and unpack them.”
Writing can be a powerful tool for learning self-compassion.18 In one experiment, people were asked to recall a failure or humiliation that had made them feel bad about themselves, ranging from flunking a big test to flopping in an athletic competition to forgetting lines in a play. They drafted a letter to themselves expressing the understanding they would offer to a friend in the same situation. Compared to a control group who wrote just about their positive attributes, those who were kind to themselves were 40 percent happier and 24 percent less angry.
Turning feelings into words can help us process and overcome adversity.19 Decades ago, health psychologist Jamie Pennebaker had two groups of college students journal for fifteen minutes a day for just four days some about nonemotional topics and others about the most traumatic experiences of their lives, which included rape, attempted suicide, and child abuse. After the first day of writing, the second group was less happy and had higher blood pressure. This made sense, since confronting trauma is painful. But when Pennebaker followed up six months later, the effects reversed and those who wrote about their traumas were significantly better off emotionally and physically.
Since then, more than a hundred experiments have documented the therapeutic effect of journaling. It has helped medical students, patients with chronic pain, crime victims, maximum-security prisoners, and women after childbirth. It has crossed cultures and countries from Belgium to Mexico to New Zealand. Writing about traumatic events can decrease anxiety and anger, boost grades, reduce absences from work, and lessen the emotional impact of job loss. Health benefits include higher T-cell counts, better liver function, and stronger antibody responses. Even journaling for a few minutes a few times can make a difference. “You don’t have to write for the rest of your life,” Pennebaker told us. “You can start and stop when you feel you need to.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 16 June 2017