Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (英語) ペーパーバック – 2017/4/24
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From Facebook's COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.
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.
"Option B is the single wisest book about grief I have ever found ... I have tried to think of anyone who would not find Option B invaluable at some point in their life, and I can’t." (Decca Aitkenhead Guardian)
"Remarkable, generous, honest, [and] almost unbearably poignant … This is a book that will be quietly passed from hand to hand, and it will surely offer great comfort to its intended readers." (New York Times)
"It's a humbling - and tearjerking - story of humanity." (Marisa Bate The Pool)
"I recommend this inspiring book to everyone around the world. None of us can escape sadness, loss, or life’s disappointments, so the best option is to find our Option B." (MALALA YOUSAFZAI, Nobel Peace Prize winner)
"Sheryl writes about her own heartbreaking experience with a rare honesty. Then she and Adam translate her personal story into a powerful, practical guide for anyone trying to build resilience in their own lives, communities, and companies. It’s hard enough to resonate with readers. It’s even harder to help take concrete steps towards a better future. Option B does both." (BILL AND MELINDA GATES, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
I've spent the last four years researching and writing about the powerful topic of Posttraumatic Growth. (I wish I could tell you the title of my book but it remains in the hands of agents and publishers. I hope it gets to be born someday.)
In the meantime I want to shout hurray and yeehaw on almost every single page of this book.
The smashing point of this book: All people can heal, and some people are even launched to a more meaningful place after experiencing trauma; clinical research shows how.
Growth is actually more common than the much better known and far better studied posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The challenge is to see the opportunity presented by seismic events. After trauma, people need hope. In the aftermath of the tragedy, people need to know there is something better.
Following a traumatic experience, most people experience a range of problems: Trouble sleeping, nightmares, agitation, flashbacks, emotional numbness, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, anxiety, anger, guilt, hyper-vigilance, depression, isolation, suicidal tendencies, etc. Until recently the entire discussion of the human response to trauma ended with a summation of the hardships incurred by trauma. But as it turns out, a traumatic event is not simply a hardship to be overcome.
Instead, it is transformative.
Trauma survivors and their family and friends need to know there is another side to trauma. Strange as it may sound, half of all sufferers emerge from the trauma stronger, more focused, and with a new perspective on their future. In numerous studies, about half of all trauma survivors report positive changes as a result of their experience. Sometimes the changes are small (life has more meaning, or the survivor feels closer to loved ones) and other times they are massive, sending people on new career paths. The worst things that happen to us might put us on a path to the best things that will ever happen to us. A brush with trauma often pushes trauma survivors to face their own mortality and to find a more meaningful and fulfilling understanding of who they are and how they want to live.
To be clear, growth does not undo loss, and it does not eliminate adversity. Posttraumatic growth is not the same as an increase in well-being or a decrease in distress. And even for those who do experience growth, suffering is not mitigated in the aftermath of tragedy. Growth may make the pain meaningful and bearable, but it does not deny the hurt.
For decades, nearly all the psychological research into trauma and recovery has focused on the debilitating problems that people face, but Option B speaks of the paths people can take to heal from their experiences and discover new meaning in their lives.
Just this morning a blog reader wrote to me and said she feels stuck because of her father's suicide many years ago. The first thing I did was tell her about your book.
I have been, and will be, recommending this book to friends and clients.
Thank you Sheryl and Adam.
The rest of the book was shockingly awful. Sandberg and Grant pushed way beyond basic recommendations for supporting grieving people into promoting their strategies for “overcoming” adversity as universally helpful. Their resilience strategies are so ill-advised for normal grieving and traumatized people that I can not only not recommend this book, I also need to strongly speak out against it.
As a person who was suddenly widowed 25 years ago, when my son was an infant; and as a psychotherapist who has helped people with grief and trauma for over 20 years, I’m horrified and insulted by the way Grant misapplies to grief and trauma his business-based positive-psychology strategies—strategies that are intended to help people with performance anxiety, not mortal suffering.
I know from experience that untimely loss is brutal, and I don’t fault Sandberg for submitting to Grant’s insistence that she follow his prescriptive exercises, especially because he frightens her by telling her that if she continues to feel her painful feelings, she’ll be “trapped” in negative emotion and her children “won’t recover.” Of course she wants her kids to be okay. So she uses his change-your-thinking exercises to momentarily stanch her wrenching pain. But in the long run, these strategies don’t get rid of grief’s intense feelings. Instead, Grant’s strategies sidestep anguishing emotions and push them underground where they fester and cause problems—years later and in future generations.
I think it was irresponsible of the publisher to allow two unqualified people to make these damaging universal suggestions to grieving and traumatized people. Sandberg is a brand-new widow. (Whether she and the general public want to believe it or not, two years into widowhood is very early.) Though I would have supported her writing a memoir of her early widowhood; I think it’s naïve for her to advise anyone on how to deal with grief and trauma for the long haul.
And Grant is a BUSINESS professor. He has zero training for working with people who are going through intensely emotional experiences, and no knowledge of up-to-date emotion science. The strategies he foists onto Sandberg emerged from research on learning and performance, not on dealing with overwhelming emotion. His cognitive-behavioral tools coerce Sandberg out of her pain and force her to prematurely and frantically chase after joy, gratitude, and meaning. These healing emotions don’t need to be hastily imposed onto people. Joy, gratitude, and meaning naturally arise when grieving people are given time and help to bear their intense emotions.
Though Sandberg was able to harness her strong achievement-drive to employ Grant’s tools for dominating her grief and leaping toward joy, all of the tools spring from a hijacking of a narrow theory about the single personality trait of resilience for willfully overpowering anguish. Throughout the book, Sandberg and Grant use terms like overcome adversity, triumph over sadness, and regain control. These warlike terms reveal that they view grief as a monster that we should fear and flee from, or battle and fight against, and to ultimately prevail over. Though ultimately fear-based, this ego-driven, conflict-filled story preserves the beloved American illusion that even in the face of horrific tragedy, we can acquire weapons of resilience in order to dominate the grief monster and bounce back to normal in just over a year.
When distressing grief reactions occur in a society like ours that denigrates long-lasting and intense grief responses, grievers can end up isolated, ashamed, and ill. They believe, “Something’s wrong with me. I need to make this stop.” “If I were resilient, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.” These beliefs are invalidating and they perpetuate a harmful fear of grief, and Option B throws gasoline on the flames of these beliefs.
Emotion science clearly shows that when we are plunged into intense emotional states such as grief, we need to feel understood and we need to be helped to express our emotions in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us. Grant never soothes Sandberg, never offers her kindness to help her bear and express her grief. Instead, he responds to her sadness, despair, or guilt with stern warnings that she’s “delaying her recovery” and “delaying her kids’ recovery.” His strident approach leaves me feeling fiercely protective of all grieving people, including Sandberg. I’ve already seen clients having normal grief responses who feel ashamed and afraid of their own emotions when they compare themselves to Sandberg.
I dislike the way resilience—as sold by Option B—is making grievers feel bad. I’m angry that Option B is turning resilience into a new hurtful grief myth that grievers have to fight against in order to heal, a myth that makes grievers feel ashamed and frightened if they can’t bounce back immediately, and if they don’t feel like prematurely striving toward joy when they’re honorably slogging through toward real healing.