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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.
SHERYL: Two years ago, I lost my husband Dave unexpectedly, which is an unimaginable thing to live through. I thought I would never get through it. I was worried my kids would never be happy again. So I asked my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist, what could I do?
ADAM: I knew from, you know, watching other people that it was possible to, to find strength in the face of real hardship.
Option B The Importance of Resilience with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Authors of Option B
SHERYL: When I lost Dave it felt like I was sucked into a void, like I couldn’t quite breathe or think. And trying to get out of that void to feel like you could breathe again, like you would one day, you know, find joy, find happiness, find any sunshine, was an incredibly hard thing to do.
Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity
ADAM: I think of resilience as the strength and speed of our response to adversity. So when something bad happens, big or small, how much are we able to overcome it, or how well do we persevere in the face of it?
SHERYL: And I remember asking Adam, you know, how much resilience do I have? How do I figure it out? How much do my kids have? And he said it was the wrong question. The question is not how much resilience you have because there’s not a fixed amount. You build resilience. So what I should be asking him is how do I build resilience?
ADAM: It’s a skill set that we work on throughout our lives. It’s something that we can build long before we face any kind of tragedy or difficulty. It’s really about learning what does it take for me to find strength in a tough situation? And then being able to apply those skills when they’re most needed.
We can build resilience over time by changing how we process negative events
ADAM: Severe adversity brings real perspective, which is about finding appreciation. And recognizing, you know, my life could be worse. And realizing how fortunate you are to have the good things that you do in your life.
SHERYL: One of the things that really helped me recover the most but was completely counterintuitive to me, is one day Adam said to me, you know things could be a lot worse. And I said to him, what do you mean things could be worse? I just lost my husband suddenly. Are you kidding? How could things be worse?
ADAM: And the only thing I could think of was to say, Dave died of a cardiac arrhythmia. And he could have had that same arrhythmia while driving your children in the car.
SHERYL: And it never occurred to me I could have lost all three of them in an instant, not just one. And actually the minute you say that, you’re like, okay. I’m all right. Thank god my children are alive.
Resilience can be strengthened by expressing gratitude for the good things in our lives
SHERYL: And so even through this loss I know I have so much to be grateful for. My own health, my children’s health, every birthday, every dinner, every minute. And, uh, I wish I had learned that before, because if I could go back and tell Dave that, I would.
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.
After loss or trauma, we all hope to bounce back. Some of us manage to bounce forward. Learn how helping others gives our suffering meaning, allowing us to grow from the most difficult experiences of our lives.