Human beings are remarkable creatures. On a macro and micro scale, history has proven that we can bounce back again and again from traumatizing and heart-breaking events. Nevertheless, it is easier said than done when you are not the one carrying the burden of a heartache. At the depth of misery and despair, how can we find the strength and resilience to overcome life’s adversity and woe?
The theme of resilience and rediscovering joy is the focus of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B. The COO of Facebook and married to CEO of a tech company worth more than $1bn, Sandberg was at the top of the world until her life was upended when her husband died suddenly. Faced with the unexpected loss of the love of her life at the height of her career, Sandberg was not sure that she could carry on for a day, let alone for the rest of her life. But her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her that there are steps to surviving grief, and resilience is innate but needs to be cultivated. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
Option B is co-written by both Sandberg and Grant, and offers a stark insight into Sandberg’s thoughts and feelings while going through the darkest moments of her life. But the book goes beyond Sandberg’s personal tragedy to trace and discover how people managed to survive hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Each of us has the capability to grow stronger after a tragedy, and in learning to do so, we could not only survive our own hardship, but also help others during their time in need.