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Everything Option B Has Taught Me

This is going to be a bit different from my past few book reviews.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a truly phenomenal book.

Someone posted it on Pinterest and deemed it a must-read, so I had to add it to my summer reading list. I’m so happy I did. This book taught me a few things and contained some thought provoking tweetables. For today’s “book review,” if you can even call it that, I want to share everything I learned from Option B, quoted straight from the book.

I hope you have a snack ’cause this might be a long one.

  • “Not everything that happens to us happens because of us.”
  • “Acknowledging blessings can be a blessing in and of itself.”
  • “Widows of all backgrounds ate more than twice as likely to live in poverty as married women. And that number is even higher for black and Latina widows due to the inequalities they experience throughout their lives. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to erase the wage gap for all women and especially women of color.
    We need to embrace all families regardless of the different forms they take and provide the help they need to get through the hardships they face. Cohabiting and same-sex couples usually don’t have the same legal protections and employment benefits as married couples. We need stronger social insurance policies and more family-friendly business practices to prevent tragedy from leading to more hardship. Single parents and widows deserve more support, and leaders, coworkers, families, and neighbors can commit to providing it.”
  • “Avoiding feelings isn’t the same as protecting feelings.”
  • “‘Even after an unarmed black person is killed for reaching over to show a cop his license, white people who have seen the news, who live in these communities, and who sit at the desk next to us at work will often say nothing,’ Maxine said (Maxine is Sheryl’s colleague, head of diversity at Facebook), ‘For the victim of racism, like the victim of loss, the silence is crippling. The two things we want to know when we’re in pain are that we’re not crazy to feel the way we do and that we have support. Acting like nothing significant is happening to people who look like us denies us all of that.'”
  • “Sometimes, despite the best intentions, we still get it wrong.”
  • “There are two different emotional responses to the pain of others: empathy, which motivates us to help, and distress, which motivates us to avoid.”
  • “There’s no one way to grieve and there’s no one way to comfort. What helps one person won’t help another, and even what helps one day might not help the next.”
  • “Self-compassion comes from recognizing that our imperfections are part of being human. Those who can tap into it recover from hardship faster.”
  • “Writing can be a powerful tool for learning self-compassion.”
  • “Self-confidence is critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we dwell on our flaws. We fail to embrace new challenges and learn new skills. We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity.”
  • “… post-traumatic growth could take five different forms: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.”
  • “A brush with death can lead to a new life.”
  • “To quote the Roman philosopher Seneca (and the song ‘Closing Time’): ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.'”
  • “A life chasing pleasure without meaning is an aimless existence. Yet a meaningful life without joy is a depressing one.”
  • “Two out of ten U.S. children of all backgrounds live in poverty, and one-third of black and close to one-third of Latino children are poor. Forty-three percent of children of single mothers live in poverty. More than two and a half million children have a parent in jail. Many children face serious illness, neglect, abuse, or homelessness. These extreme levels of harm and deprivation can impede children’s intellectual, social, emotional, and academic development.
    We owe all children safety, support, opportunity, and help finding a way forward, especially in the most tragic situations.”
  • “Resilience leads to greater happiness, more success, and better health.”
  • “Often the people fighting injustice are themselves the victims of injustice. They have to find the hope and strength to overcome the adversity they face today in order to work for improvements tomorrow.”
  • “‘Moral elevation’ describes the feeling of being uplifted by an act of uncommon goodness.”
  • “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.”
  • “After we fall in love, we gain confidence and self-esteem and expand our identities.”
  • “… Couples. who laugh together are more likely to stay married. Physiologically, humor lowers our heart rate and relaxes our muscles… Laughter breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening.”
  • “Playwright Robert Woodruff Anderson captured it perfectly: ‘Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship.'”
  • “After falling in love, couples often find that the sparks fade, and one way to reignite them is to try new or exciting activities.”
  • “The most common patterns for couples that divorced went like this: the wife would bring up an issue, the husband would get belligerent or defensive, and then the wife would reciprocate with sadness, disgust, or stonewalling. In the couples whose marriages lasted, instead of escalating negativity, both partners showed humor and affection. They took responsibility for their problems and found ways to compromise. They sent signals that even though they were fighting, at a deeper level, they were okay.”

Believe it or not, I barely scratched the surface with all the content Option B has. You can find an inexpensive copy of it at several online stores; I got mine from I ten out of ten think you should read it, even if you haven’t lost your spouse.

Next up: Work Party: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams by Jaclyn Johnson