Just Read: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Ever since I read Lean In (see: Just Read (and discussed with my mother): Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg) I’ve felt some commonality with Sheryl Sandberg as someone who knows what she’s passionate about and continues to help people understand the world better. Like her, I get the emotional and physical eye rolls and comments about this being “my thing” – you know, the thing involving equality equal health 🙂 .

It is what it is, misfits have to stick together while others work to “fit in.”

I enjoyed the book and I’m not going to summarize it because a lot of people already have, these are the things that resonate with me.

Recovery and the Three P’s

Your life can really change in an instant.

No detail seems spared in this account of the death of Sandberg’s husband, which is the platform for a deep exploration of grief, resilience, including research into implicit bias and stereotypic threat. It’s an impressive journey, fueled by emotion. From that perspective, I’d say the goal of experiencing traumatic growth was met.

Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization—the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 16). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Much as the science in Stumbling on Happiness reveals, a lot of our abilities our self determined.

The R word (Resilience)

This is the word of the decade. Google confirms it. I can’t keep up with all of the definitions of what it is. It is no less important, though. In my situation, I am interested in the resilience of populations because of the time and space I live in in Washington, DC.

Resilient communities have strong social ties—bonds between people, bridges between groups, and links to local leaders.

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 139). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, psychologists went to refugee camps in Tanzania to provide mental health care. They found that treating individuals was less effective than strengthening the community’s ability to support vulnerable groups.

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 139). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I identify with these sentiments as I exist in communities with truly transformational leaders. They are the ones that say things like this:

“My job is to restore dignity. Society told them that they were not beautiful, they were not amazing, that they will never make it. A big part of my job is to reassure them that they were lied to. And once I’m able to do that, I want them to dream.”
Ruby Corado, United Shades of America, CNN, May, 2017

What we do in our roles as members of communities matters. Lives can change in an instant.

The Failure Resume

I’m definitely going to do this. Watch for it.

Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer took her up on it and posted his failure résumé—a list that went on for two pages of rejections from degree programs, job openings, academic journals, fellowships, and scholarships.

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 147). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Happiness from Within

As it was also said in Stumbling on Happiness, Marriage, although important, is not the determinant of health it is thought to be.

In a landmark fifteen-year study of changes in marital status among more than 24,000 people, getting married increased average happiness only a little bit; on a scale of 0 to 10, single people who were at a 6.7 in happiness might increase to a 6.8 after getting married. That tiny boost occurred around the time of the wedding and typically faded within a year. If one of the participants lost a spouse and did not remarry, eight years later on average their happiness would be a 6.55. It turns out that people who choose to be single are very satisfied with their lives. “Singles are stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored,” psychologist Bella DePaulo finds, “and still live happily ever after.”

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 160). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A year later, confirmation that nothing is someone else’s problem

Speaking of misfits and fitting in, I completed this book on the 1 year anniversary of Jess Jacobs’ death, by coincidence (see: Remembering Jess Jacobs).

One of my favorite posters on our office walls reads, “Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.”

Sandberg, Sheryl. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (p. 152). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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