Book Review: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, And Finding Joy. By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Book Review. Book Cover. Inspiring and motivating Quotes.“Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B. This book is to help us all kick the sh*t out of it.”

Sandberg is the COO of Facebook whose husband of 11 years suddenly died in May 2015 during their vacation in Mexico. Their friend and psychiatrist Adam Grant helped her cope with the tragedy. This book is the result of Sandberg’s personal insights, Grant’s research, several interesting studies and inspiring stories of many who faced adversity -death, illness, sexual assault, war or other extreme hardships- and how they got over it.

Here are some important points I noted:

  • 3 P’s that stunt ones recovery (per psychologist Martin Seligman) :
    1. Personalization– belief that we are at fault for a given adversity
    2. Pervasiveness – a belief that an event will affect all areas of our lives
    3. Permanence– a belief that the aftershocks of the adverse event will last forever.
  • It is important for family and friends to reach out and acknowledge the pain and assure that they are there, rather than avoid because they are uncomfortable or not sure what exactly to say.
  • Journaling, or even voice-recording, could be a powerful tool for learning self-compassion. By putting feelings into words, you give yourself more power over them. At the end of the day, write down 3 things you are grateful for. Another more active form that builds self-confidence would be to write down three things that you did well in the day, the “small wins”. 
  • Building resilience in children depends upon the opportunities they have and the relationships they form with parents, teachers, friends and caregivers, fostering four core beliefs:
    1. That kids have some control over their lives: This comes with clear and consistent communication of expectations, and giving them structure and predictability.
    2. Learning from failure: Tell kids that if they find something difficult, it means their brain is growing. Foster a “growth mindset” as against “fixed mindset,” e.g. when applauding say “you tried so well” as against ” you are so smart”. The latter actually puts a cap of sorts that discourages kids to go beyond.
    3. That kids matter as human beings: Listen closely to their ideas, make them feel that others notice , care for and rely on them. This helps them create attachments.
    4. They have real strength to rely on and share: Help children identify their strengths. This is a great tool in life and critical after any traumatic events.
  • Just as family stories help children feel a sense of belonging, collective stories create identities for communities building collective resilience that is the need of the hour in today’s fragmented world.
  • We have blind spots- weaknesses that others see but we don’t. It is important to seek constructive criticism; one of the best ways to see ourselves clearly is to ask others to hold up a mirror.

The last part is about learning to love and laugh again, especially after a partners death. Sandberg gives statistics and stories of how prejudiced the society is, particularly towards widows, if they try to find love again. Her own case proves the point: encouraged by her family and friends she started seeing someone, the news story received some very angry and mean comments.

I found Sandberg’s intimate description acute pain she and her kids experienced day in day out quite touching, and left me teary eyed many times. It is indeed difficult to get through loss or trauma, but trying is all we can do. And if there is support of either family – friends, or if one reaches out to groups facing similar struggle, along with right tools, it becomes easier.  Also, finding greater meaning in life makes it bearable.
Option B: Facing adversity, Building Resilience, And Finding Joy is well written, not too big, comprehensive and an easy read. 5 Stars of Goodreads.

Helpful Links: OptionB.org,  Facebook Page.
Some thoughts from the book:
“Self-compassion isn’t talked about as much as it is usually confused with self-pity and self-indulgence. Self-compassion comes from recognizing that our imperfections are part of being human.”
“Children look for acceptance in drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex.”
“Talk to people about their grief instead of avoiding the conversation because you are uncomfortable or you think they will not feel good about it.”

 

 

The little story of a dragonfly: Hope

The little story of a Dragonfly:

This is the story of a water beetle who lived with her friends deep down in an obscure lily pond. Their life in the soft pond mud was content and uneventful, away from the direct sun and any disturbances far above. However, every once in a while, some beetle would climb up a lily stalk making its way up, up and away. Never to return. This would make all of them sad, wary and fearful.

One beautiful summer morning the sky above was still rosy, when down below, this one beetle got restless. Boredom and curiosity got the better of her and she started her climb up one firm lily stem. She was determined find out what lay beyond and to come back and share her findings with her friends below. The climb was long and steep, and she finally broke through the surface of water into a sea of gleaming lilies ubiquitous in the gorgeous sunlit pond. She was fascinated beyond her wits, but the long climb had tired her out. She lay on the lily pad in the blanket of the warming sun, soon falling into a deep sleep. She slept long, only to be shocked once she woke up. Her body had transformed during the long nap; she now had a long electric blue tail and lustrous wings, perfect for flying. The beetle was transformed into a brilliant dragonfly! She took her first flight above the pond and the lilies, rising and swooping and soaring back up again. A whole new world had opened up for her, a way superior life than that the one she had known all her life. More like a fantasy beyond her wildest imagination. Now back on on lily pad for a little respite, she remembered her life under water, and felt a pang of sympathy for her friends. In a gush of emotion to tell them all about this new world, she headed to get under water only to jolt back. Her new body was no more for the water.

A realization came upon the beetle that even if she went, her friends wouldn’t recognize her, nor believe this “absurd” tale. That they would realize it only when each one takes that step and experiences it for themselves. Poignant, but peaceful, the beetle took an deep breath and darted into the dazzling sunlight towards her glorious new life, now as a radiant Dragonfly!

Death:

In the face death, the harshest but most certain reality of life, this story assuages us that our loved one might just not cease to exist. They might just have found a glorious world beyond our knowledge. It gives us reassurance. It gives us hope.

Life:

In the face of life and the living, when I died many tiny deaths in face of frustration and failure and hopelessness and depression, it empowered me to go beyond the unpleasant and the dark. It urges to go past any complacency of a certain  “just OK” life-situation encouraging for an exploration of a more meaningful and fulfilling life. It gives the hope of a possibility of something splendid, only if one resolves to break through.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Inspiring story of hope. Quote form the Shawshank Redemption by Andy Dufresne to Red.

To hope!