Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
After the unexpected death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg was sure she would never feel happiness again and was concerned that her children faced the same future. In hopes of reconnecting with others, reengaging with work, and reestablishing routines with her family, Sheryl reached out to others about her struggles. What she found helped lift the fog and see that she was not the only person in the world to experience profound and unexpected loss that changed everything about her life (she was not alone), but also that other people had already found ways to cope with overwhelming emotions in a way that helped bring new growth into life after terrible suffering. By seeking out old wisdom that was new to her, Sandberg was gradually able to process through her grief, discover new strategies for coping with all the emotions that hit her at the most inopportune times, and learn new habits and routines to maintain a sense of stability amidst chaos. A mix of Sandberg’s own story, the suffering of others, and astounding creativity and resilience of people who have already “been there, done that,” this book offers concrete examples of personal tragedy and hope that things can and will change.
“Option B” is a joint effort by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, though it is narrated from Sheryl’s point of view (with a disclaimer in the first chapter explaining that decision). Grant is a professor of psychology, and he knew Sheryl before her husband died and was one of many people in her life that were instrumental in helping her move through her grief. Throughout the book, Sandberg shares openly about her struggles with grief and how it interfered with her professional role, personal life, and ability to help her kids after loss. She mixes her own narrative with several other examples of personal loss, tragedy, and struggles, each one also demonstrating the ability to overcome unthinkable circumstances. The bite-sized chapters make it easy to move through the book, and offer insight into the experience of tragedy and concrete strategies for overcoming it. Sandberg and Grant have done thorough research into the ways people develop resilience, and each chapter shares information on people, organizations and communities that have come up with effective methods to bounce back, and sometimes even bounce forward, after adversity.
This book is an excellent tool for anyone looking to strengthen their healthy coping mechanism and find strategies for strengthening and protecting their mental and emotional well-being. I learned so much from the innovative resilience strategies discussed in this book, and plan to incorporate some of them into my future volunteer training sessions at work. If nothing else, this book offers ample inspiration about the indomitable human spirit and the will to survive, thrive, and continue engaging in life. I was amazed at the creative solutions people have developed to cope with struggles, and also that one of the community programs that sounded like it had been developed in the past 5 years has actually been in existence for almost 40 years! Well worth the read.