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Taking Back Joy

2 minutes, 1 second

The guilt we feel after loss or trauma can prevent us from enjoying the things we love. But when we give ourselves permission to do what we love, we allow ourselves to reclaim joy in our lives.

SHERYL: About four months after Dave died, I went to a bar mitzvah. And I was with childhood friends. And one of my friends, Brooke, took me onto the dance floor, and we were dancing. And for, like, a minute, it was just amazing. And then I literally burst into tears on the dance floor. At first I didn't know what was wrong. I thought I was missing Dave, but I had been missing Dave for months and this felt different. And then I realized, I had felt happy for one minute. And then I immediately felt so guilty that I felt any happiness, any joy, that I just crumbled.

Option B Taking Back Joy with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Authors of Option B

SHERYL: I told Adam the story about crying on the dance floor. And Adam said, of course you're not happy. It's been four months, you haven't done a single thing that would actually make you happy.

ADAM: So many people struggle with survivor's guilt. When we lose someone close to us, we find ourselves wondering, why wasn't it me? Why couldn't I have saved that person?

The guilt we feel after loss or trauma can prevent us from doing the things we love

ADAM: And I think this is such a natural reaction. And I think one of the ways that, that we deal with it is, we take back joy. For a lot of people this is about taking back the things that they loved before they lost a loved one, or a job. And sort of reclaiming and saying, look, I am gonna give myself permission to enjoy these small things. Because happiness is really the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity.

Happiness is the frequency of positive experiences – not the intensity

SHERYL: Adam made another suggestion. He said, write down three moments of joy every night. Every night before I go to bed, I write down three moments of joy. And they can be really small. But what happens is that, because I'm noticing those three moments of joy, it makes the whole day more joyful.

Noticing moments of joy can make the whole day more joyful

SHERYL: I think anyone who's gone through trauma, knowing that it is okay to find joy is so important.

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