Option B Summary
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg is on JPMorgan 2017 Summer Reading List, that’s the initial reason I pick this book to read. When she was 45 years old, Facebook COO and mother of two, Sheryl Sandberg found her husband collapsed on the floor of the gym in Mexico. He never woke again. This book is written on how to deal with adversity that can occur to everyone’s life.
“Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me” I like this perspective of life. We all deal with loss: Job loss, loves lost, lives lost. The question is not whether these things will happen. They will, and we will have to face them. Recovery does not start from the same place for everyone. Adversity not only happens to a few people, it happens to everyone no matter you are rich or poor, it’s part of life itself. We all need to learn how to successfully overcome various hardships. Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. This book will help you to deal with adversity in your own life and find happiness after an adversity included a traumatic event like the death of a loved one.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us” — Helen Keller
Adversity can range from loss, rejection, and divorce to injury and illness, from professional failure to personal disappointment. Option A is not available, so let’s just kick the shit out of option B. Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.
In her book, she wrote when we look for joy, we often focus on the big moments, but happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity. I could not agree more about this. Happiness is the joy you find on hundreds of small and forgettable moments.
Here are the things I learned from the book:
- dealing with three P’s
- Focusing on worst-case scenarios
- What is “mum effect”
- Acting as a panic button for your grieving friends can rely on
- Turning feelings into words
- Post traumatic growth
- Taking back joy
- Finding Strength Together
- Failure is mother of success
Avoiding the Three P’s
Psychologist Martin Seligman who identified three P’s that can stunt someone’s recovery:
- Personalization — The belief that we are at fault
- Pervasiveness — The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life
- Permanence — The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever
Focusing on worst-case scenarios
It is a good idea to think about how much worse things could be. When you think about worse-case scenarios, look back and then you will have that gratitude overlook some of the grief. When something terrible happens, it can be important to consider how things could be worse.
One thing I learned from the book is we can share something for which we are grateful each day at dinner. It will remind us of our daily blessings. Courting blessings can actually increase happiness and health by reminding us of the good things in life.
What is “Mum Effect”?
“Mum Effect” is an effect for people avoiding upsetting topics.
She is talking about non-question-asking friend in the book. Sometimes these friends are self-absorbed, sometimes they’re just uncomfortable having intimate conversations. I have to reflect this to my own experience, I realized I was a non-question-asking friend myself for many cases, not because I didn’t care, at the most time I just felt uncomfortable discuss painful or difficult personal issues, probably people were thinking about me as a self-absorbed person at that time, and missed the opportunities to make lifelong trustworthy friends.
What I should do is asking a lot of questions and listening to the answers without judging. We should all enjoy learning about and feeling connected to others.
By reading her book, I realized when friends were in pain, acknowledgement is more important than offering optimism and reassurance to minimize their fears. a sentence of “I know it must be really hard. I’ve been thinking about you”, probably is a better approach. “I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you!”
Speaking up can strengthen social bonds, but it has its own risk. Risk includes judgement or people turn around using this to against you. By ignoring it, those who are grieving isolate themselves and those who could offer comfort create distance instead.
Speaking with empathy and honesty is a good place to start.
Acting as a panic button for your grieving friends
From the stress experiment described from this book, we learned the panic button didn’t need to stop the noise to relieve the pressure. Simply showing up for a friend can make a huge difference.
I really like the way she describes about caring ” Caring means that when someone is hurting, you cannot imagine being anywhere else”.
The Platinum Rule to follow is treat others as you want to be treated. Take a cue from the person is distress and respond with understanding — or better yet, action.
I used to ask my friends having trouble ” Is there anything I can do?” I was very sincere, but after reading her book, finally I realized either it’s hard for them to ask for the help or they feel too much of an imposition. What we should do is instead of asking, just do something.
A common experience is having friends who decide it’s their job to inform grieving pals what they should be doing — and worse, what they should be feeling. Grief doesn’t share its schedule with anyone; we all grieve differently and in our own time. We needed friends who let us know that even if we were difficult to be around, they would not abandon us. The friends who help her the most are people said they were in it with her.
As people mature, we focus on a smaller set of meaningful relationships, and the quality of friendships becomes a more important factor in happiness than the quantity. This is so true, when I was younger, I was always proud how popular I was, and how many friends were following me. Now I understand quality is much more important than quantity.
Turning feelings into words
Writing can be a powerful tool for learning self-compassion. Turning feelings into words can help us process and overcome adversity. Even we are journaling for a few minutes a few times can make a different, you can start and stop when you feel you need to.
Labeling negative emotions makes them easier to deal with. The more specific the label, the better.
philosopher Soren Kierkegarrd said that life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward. Journaling can help us make sense of the past and rebuild our self-confidence to navigate the present and future.
She mentioned “Empathy was nice but encouragement was better”, but I think when a person go thru adversity at that time, Empathy can comfort almost everyone, but not everyone is ready and willing to take encouragement until later on.
A few tips she did that can help us also from different ways in life:
- Write down three things you had done well daily to help you to get back your confidence
- Jot down three happy moments daily in your notebook to make you notice and appreciate these flashes of joy
Post traumatic growth
Post traumatic growth can take five different forms: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.
“I am more vulnerable than I thought, but much stronger than I ever imaged” — Tedeschi and Calhoun
We don’t have to wait for special occasions to feel and show gratitude. She wrote “If we could live going forward with the understanding of how precious every single day is”, it made me think about the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, he lived backwards and day by day he knew how many days left he could live and how precious each day would be.
From this book, you are not only learned Cheryl’s life, but also other people thru examples and stories in the book. One of the stories is NFL veteran Vernon Turner, I felt emotional when I read what he said “When they measured my stature, they failed to measure my heart.”
Roman Philosopher Seneca quote “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Taking Back Joy
A day of joy is fifteen minutes. A day of pain is fifteen years. No one pretends this is easy, but the job of life is to make those fifteen minutes into fifteen years and those fifteen years into fifteen minutes. Paying attention to moments of joy take effort because we are wired to focus on the negatives more than the positives. Just as labeling negative emotions can help us process them, labeling positive emotions works too.
As we get older, we define happiness less in terms of excitement and more in terms of peacefulness.
Joy allows us to go on living and loving and being there for others. When all the joy moments add up, you find they give us more than happiness; they also give us strength.
Resilience in love means finding strength from within that you can share with others. Finding a way to make love last through the highs and lows. Finding your own way to love when life does not work out as planned. Finding the hope to love and laugh when love is cruelly taken from you. And finding a way to hang on to love even when the person you love is gone.
Finding Strength Together
When people endure tragedies together or endure the same tragedy, it can fortify the bonds between them. They learn to trust each other, be vulnerable with each other, depend on each other. People can build hope together. By creating a shared identity, individuals can form a group that has a past and a brighter future. Changing tragedy into a miracle, depression into hope.
After undergoing a hardship, people have new knowledge to offer those who go through similar experiences. When we build resilience together, we become stronger ourselves and form communities that can overcome obstacles and prevent adversity.
Failure is Mother of Success
We are too insecure to admit mistakes to ourselves or too proud to admit them to others. Instead of opening up, we get defensive and shut down. A resilient organization helps people overcome these reactions by creating a culture that encourages individuals to acknowledge their missteps and regrets.
Psychologists have found that over time we usually regret the chances we missed, not the chances we took.
We all have blind spots that other people see but we don’t. Sometimes we’re in denial. Other times we simply don’t know what we’re doing wrong. Sometimes we need to do is “Slow down and listen more”. One of the best ways to see ourselves clearly is to ask others to hold up a mirror.
Accepting feedback is easier when you don’t take it personally. Being open to criticism means you get even more feedback, which makes you better.
Let me know what you think about this book and also I hope my summary of Option B can help you in some way.