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Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy Hardcover – April 24, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of April 2017: After the unexpected passing of her beloved husband, Facebook COO and bestselling author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, feared that she and her children would never find joy again. Fortunately this fear was unfounded. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy--co-authored with psychologist and friend Adam Grant--shows you how Sandberg, and many others who have overcome a wide range of profound hardships, triumphed over tragedy. The book posits that it’s helpful to think of resilience like a muscle, one that atrophies in the calm between the storms of our lives. But there are things we can do to develop it, so we’re better prepared when adversity strikes. In America, culture can put a kink in this plan. Processing a painful event can be hindered when you’re wired not to talk about it. We all know that when someone asks how we’re doing, the expected response is “fine,” no matter if we’ve just lost a limb, or had a cancer scare. We will grin, and we will bear it, and we will go back to work too soon and burst into tears in the copy room when confronted by a malevolent stapler (or maybe that’s just me). Recently, Sandberg helped to enact a new employee benefit at Facebook: 20 days of paid bereavement leave, twice the amount that was offered previously. As she explains in Option B, it’s the humane thing to do, and it also makes good business sense; compassionate companies engender more loyal employees. In this way, Option B is more than a little revolutionary. It challenges us to change systems that don’t always take our humanness into account. And that’s something we need to do on a personal level as well. None of us are immune to misfortune and heartbreak. We need to cut ourselves some slack when times get tough, and, as Sandberg discovered, flip the golden rule: When a loved one is in distress, instead of treating them how you would want to be treated, consider how they want to be treated, which may be quite different. Option B starts an (oftentimes) uncomfortable but important conversation. If we lean in to the numerous lessons it has on offer, there’s a lot more joy to be found. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review
“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
“The overwhelming message of this book is: We’re a lot more resilient than we think we are. But there are things we can do for ourselves, and for other people who are hurting, that will really allow that resilience to bloom.” —Katie Couric
“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
“Option B is as hopeful as it is heartbreaking. Here are stories of sometimes unimaginable pain and loss, but also of how human beings nonetheless have the capacity to endure and even thrive. This book is not just an absorbing read. It also provides lessons that everyone needs to learn.” —Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal
“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
“Thoughtful, insightful, and compelling. Both individually and collectively, we all need to understand the power of rehabilitation, recovery, and redemption if we are to overcome adversity. This incredible book doesn’t avoid the loss and tragedy we all sometimes encounter, but it is animated by a resolve that is both inspiring and instructive.” —Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative
“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
“Though it was inspired by a deeply personal tragedy, Option B details Sandberg’s experience and the topic of resilience more broadly, and is filled with insight that is useful for anyone overcoming loss or failure.” —Brad Stulberg, New York Magazine “Science of Us”
“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
“Part memoir and part operating manual for surviving the hardest moments in our lives, Option B has essential wisdom . . . This book has the power to help heal. What's doubly impressive about Sandberg’s decision to write it: she must have known it required opening herself up to feedback that far exceeds the usual literary criticism.” —Rebecca Ruiz, Mashable
“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
“Sandberg is helping people find resilience and meaning in the face of adversity. She says there isn’t one way to grieve, but she’s learned that processing your feelings and not blaming yourself is an important part of recovery. . . Facing adversity, Sandberg says, is a part of daily life from childhood to adulthood.” —Queenie Wong, The Mercury News
“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
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Top Customer Reviews
I've spent the last four years researching and writing about the powerful topic of Posttraumatic Growth. (I wish I could tell you the title of my book but it remains in the hands of agents and publishers. I hope it gets to be born someday.)
In the meantime I want to shout hurray and yeehaw on almost every single page of this book.
The smashing point of this book: All people can heal, and some people are even launched to a more meaningful place after experiencing trauma; clinical research shows how.
Growth is actually more common than the much better known and far better studied posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The challenge is to see the opportunity presented by seismic events. After trauma, people need hope. In the aftermath of the tragedy, people need to know there is something better.
Following a traumatic experience, most people experience a range of problems: Trouble sleeping, nightmares, agitation, flashbacks, emotional numbness, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, anxiety, anger, guilt, hyper-vigilance, depression, isolation, suicidal tendencies, etc. Until recently the entire discussion of the human response to trauma ended with a summation of the hardships incurred by trauma. But as it turns out, a traumatic event is not simply a hardship to be overcome.
Instead, it is transformative.
Trauma survivors and their family and friends need to know there is another side to trauma. Strange as it may sound, half of all sufferers emerge from the trauma stronger, more focused, and with a new perspective on their future. In numerous studies, about half of all trauma survivors report positive changes as a result of their experience. Sometimes the changes are small (life has more meaning, or the survivor feels closer to loved ones) and other times they are massive, sending people on new career paths. The worst things that happen to us might put us on a path to the best things that will ever happen to us. A brush with trauma often pushes trauma survivors to face their own mortality and to find a more meaningful and fulfilling understanding of who they are and how they want to live.
To be clear, growth does not undo loss, and it does not eliminate adversity. Posttraumatic growth is not the same as an increase in well-being or a decrease in distress. And even for those who do experience growth, suffering is not mitigated in the aftermath of tragedy. Growth may make the pain meaningful and bearable, but it does not deny the hurt.
For decades, nearly all the psychological research into trauma and recovery has focused on the debilitating problems that people face, but Option B speaks of the paths people can take to heal from their experiences and discover new meaning in their lives.
Just this morning a blog reader wrote to me and said she feels stuck because of her father's suicide many years ago. The first thing I did was tell her about your book.
I have been, and will be, recommending this book to friends and clients.
Thank you Sheryl and Adam.
Sandberg, naturally writes about how challenging it was just to come to terms with the sudden loss of her husband and how she was going to explain the news to her young children. How they were going to get through the funeral, how would she, this strong woman who wrote about co-parenting and working in this modern world, do the same as a single parent, how she would face her colleagues at work, when was the right time to go back to work. So many unknowns. Her new world was so unfamiliar. The things that struck me were her feelings about how isolated she felt. She has a big extended family, including her husband’s. Many friends. Many work friends. Yet, she felt alone. People were scared to talk to her. Or if they asked how she was doing, they didn’t want to hear that she was not ok. It was ‘depressing.’ Asking how are you doing, is not really inquiring about the person on a personal level. You know they are not ok. Try to phrase it to the here and now. How did you get through today? Many people offer to do something but not many just do it. When you lose a loved one, she writes, and this is so true, don’t say “What can I do for you?” Just do something. Leave food for the person’s family so they don’t have to think about cooking, send some beautiful flowers, bring an uplifting book, take their kids out if they are up for it, so that your friend can rest, anything even taking on the most mundane task, just something that shows you care, that they didn’t have to ask for. Sandberg talks about a friend of a friend who lost a loved one and a friend showed up every day in the lobby of his building and asked what he didn’t want on his burger. He wasn’t imposing, wasn’t asking to see his friend, just let him know that he was bringing him lunch.
In the past, before I experienced grief first-hand, I am sure that I was guilty of asking the too general “how are you?” and “what can I do for you?” without ill intentions, but because I didn’t know what to do. Sandberg is well aware that most people do not act to hurt you. As she says, “they’re not piling it on,” but that is how it feels. I do know that when I did offer simple acts of kindness, it went a long way, and vice versa. I can remember a time when a dear friend’s father passed away and friends and family gathered at their house. I asked what her father’s favorite dessert was. Blueberry pie. I promptly baked one and brought it over. Her mother told me numerous times over the years how comforting that was to her. The same has been done for me after losing my mother. A friend knew that there was a cookie recipe in my mom’s cookbook that was a cookie ‘made with love’ and she sent home a batch in my son’s backpack the week after her funeral. I was so touched and comforted at the same time. I will never forget that gesture of kindness. Another friend, would send me a note every week, just to tell me that she was thinking of me. Having endured much heartache, herself, she knew that once the period of Shiva is over, people don’t often check on you. She continued to check on me and this made me feel not only loved but as if she were hugging me. The day after my father died, I received a text from a good friend, who lives in the city where I do, and offered to come to Chicago, where my father lived. I will never forget how deeply this touched me. To know that a friend would do this for me, without my asking. Just as two of my closest, oldest friends did exactly that, flew across the country to be by my side when my mother passed away, will forever be fixed in my memory and in how I managed the initial shock. This is one way in which we are able to ‘build resilience’.
Sandberg shares many of her own stories about how she ‘faced adversity,’ what people have done for her, such as her mother staying at her house for a month, and when she couldn’t be there, her sister-in-law took over. How her boss, yes, Jeff Zuckerberg, and his wife, invited her family to spend time with them on vacation so that they could just get away. When it was time to clean out her husband Dave’s closet, his own mother came to help her.
If you or a friend is in need of a relatable book that can show you that you are not alone, that does not tell you what to do but shows you what others have experienced, and that while some pain never goes away, healing can come.
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