Option B | Sheryl Sandberg

Summary of: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
By: Sheryl Sandberg


In ‘Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy’, Sheryl Sandberg shares her personal journey through grief after the sudden loss of her husband, and provides insights into the psychology of resilience during difficult times. The book highlights psychologist Martin Seligman’s “three Ps” – personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence – which represent common reactions to tragedy. The summary delves into how to combat these reactions, the indispensable trait of resilience, recognizing and embracing happiness during dark times, and the significance of having support groups and empathetic friends. Read on for powerful lessons on navigating rock-bottom moments and rebuilding a joyful life.

Overcoming personal tragedy

Sometimes life events could have a significant impact on our lives. One such event is personal tragedy. The way we respond to such an event can determine how long it would take us to move on. Psychologist Martin Seligman identified three common responses to tragedy, which he calls the three Ps. The first P is personalization, which involves blaming oneself for the tragedy. Sheryl Sandberg’s personal experience after her husband’s death is used as an example. The second P is pervasiveness, where the pain and sadness feel all-consuming and can reach every aspect of our lives. The third P is permanence, which involves feeling like the pain will last forever. Despite the difficulty of overcoming this feeling, it is possible to achieve it.

Finding Resilience

In the face of pain and loss, we can find resilience by acknowledging that suffering is inevitable but can be lessened. One way to do this is to keep a daily record of our emotional state and focus on positive experiences, no matter how small. By recognizing the good along with the bad, we can shift our attention away from negativity and develop resilience to withstand life’s challenges.

Finding Joy in Grief

Grieving can be an emotionally overwhelming experience that leaves one feeling guilty for enjoying life. However, it is essential to recognize that it is possible to experience happiness, purpose, and resilience amidst sorrow. Virginia’s story is an example of how one can find purpose and meaning in grief by taking up new hobbies and activities. The deceased would also want their loved ones to be happy and not feel remorseful for surviving. Thus one should avoid adding remorse to the grieving process as it only makes it harder to find resilience.

The Resilience of the Uruguay Rugby Team

The story of the Uruguay rugby team that crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972 is a testament to the power of resilience. Despite facing starvation, frostbite, and having to resort to cannibalism, 16 of the 33 survivors managed to endure the deadly conditions and keep hope alive by sharing their dreams. However, hope alone wasn’t enough. They also took action to make things better in the immediate future by sending teams to find supplies and locate shelter, resulting in a series of small but gradual improvements. This extreme example shows how resilient humans can be, especially when they’re part of a group that has shared the same experience. Support groups can be of great help in the grieving process, understanding what you’re going through, and motivating you to reach goals.

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