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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.
Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity. It’s a skillset we develop over the course of our lives, and there are concrete steps we can take to build resilience long before we face any kind of difficulty.
We often have a hard time talking about adversity—but staying silent can make our loved ones feel even more isolated after loss or hardship. This video offers simple ways to speak with empathy and honesty when our friends are suffering.
One way we build resilience is by fighting permanence, which is the belief that our grief or pain will last forever. Watch Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant explain how taking steps to remind ourselves that even the most painful feelings won’t always be so intense can help us find the strength to heal.
When you treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you’d show a friend, that’s self-compassion. When you believe in your abilities, that’s self-confidence. We can practice self-compassion and develop our self-confidence on a daily basis to build resilience.
We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule: treat others how you want to be treated. But the way you want to be treated when facing adversity may be completely different from how others want to be treated. To truly support your loved ones, use the Platinum Rule instead: treat others how they want to be treated.