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Friday, November 10, 2017
OPTION B, a really useful self-help book...I can't believe I said that...
OPTION B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy
SHERYL SANDBERG and ADAM GRANT
Alfred A. Knopf
$25.95 hardcover, available now
Rating: 4* of five
The Publisher Says: After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. 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.
We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.
My Review: Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband before he was fifty. I lost mine when he was not quite 34. I connect with her pain on every imaginable level.
I also understand why she wrote this survivors' manual. She had to do something positive with her agony or it would sink her, and she was now a single mom. She couldn't afford the luxury of sinking because it would take her children down as well. That is a great reason to do the horrible, painful, disconcerting work of growing around your grief.
Make no mistake: It's awful work, hard and thankless and lonely. Your successes feel fleeting, your failures eternal, and with the best will in the world outsiders (parents, children, siblings, friends) will say, do, preach things at you that will make you furiously angry and hurt inexpressibly.
And if you're wondering, we will all lose spouses in our lives, not necessarily to death. Grief is grief. Your loss is not unique, and your loss is not anyone else's so no one else gets to tell you how to go through it. But those who have walked the walk before you have some ideas on what you can do to make this hideous amputation work *for* you.
Yes, that's possible. I promise you that it is. And this book, with its combination of the deeply personal and the professionally informative strands of information, is a great, a wonderful, a tremendously valuable resource for someone experiencing the involuntary transformation that is grieving.
But the best thing about Option B is the fact that it excludes no one from the helping, healing conversation about grief and grieving. No matter the genesis of your trauma, grieving is a process with known parameters. All sources of trauma produce grief in their wake, and that fact...while on its face horrible and grim...is actually, in the end, incredibly hopeful. Your grief is unique to you, but grief is universal and grieving is ever-more-completely understood; this is one of the key realizations in the book. It is also the key realization that many people, lost in the fog of grief, need most to hear as it can offer them Ariadne's clew to get away from the devouring Minotaur of misery in their lightless, timeless labyrinth.
Now, the stuff I wasn't crazy about. Sandberg is astoundingly successful. Her world doesn't have survival challenges. She makes more than enough money to do whatever the hell she wants to do even if she stops going to work today and never goes back again. The other 99.99% of us do not have that luxury. If your purpose in reading this book is to figure out how the hell you're going to keep the lights on, cans of beans in the pantry, and a box of rice to go with, this isn't a helpful tome. In fact it will probably make you livid, so pass it up. But if survival isn't the problem for you, there are ideas in here to use...especially some of the out-of-the-box ones. You're likely to have a low bullshit tolerance when grieving, and Sandberg advises going with the flow here. I tend to agree with her.
BUT. Do not think, as Sandberg apparently does, that your grief will insulate you from the consequences of your newfound unwillingness to suck it up. She can tell her boss to do shit right and get away with it because she's a powerful, successful woman with oodles of money. Your manager isn't going to give you the same rope hers does, make no mistake. Adapt this concept to your circumstances. Maybe, if your desire to speak truth to power becomes overwhelming, crank up that job search and get outta Dodge before the sheriff makes you. Remember that Sandberg's journey is her own. Use the ideas though not necessarily the techniques.
Sandberg's discovery that she could find and feel happiness again is the important take-away here. You might not find a good man to have fun with. You might, in fact, not *want* to find a good man to have fun with. Here's the thing Sandberg's saying: Be available to happiness, not sewn to the shroud of wretched miserable loneliness that comes with grieving. However it looks to you. Take roads you haven't been down. Do different things, do them differently. This book isn't a prescription, it's a supplement shelf, and it can lead you back into lighter, brighter, happier life.