Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg reveals the sorrow and strength Sheryl experienced after the unexpected passing of her husband, David Goldberg. Psychologist Adam Grant has co-authored this book and provides principles to help people overcome hardship and turn tragedy into triumph.

Sheryl is the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In. She chronicles the painful emotions she experienced after the death of her husband and provides the reader with a helpful perspective for facing significant hardship,  “the worst thing people could say was, ‘It’s going to be okay.’” We must take care to respond to the person and not simply echo platitudes. Sheryl advises us, “the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. To literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you.” She adds, “But when someone is suffering, instead of following the Golden Rule, we need to follow the Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated.”

The book contains a number of principles, supported by research, that can help people in dealing with hardship, “We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization—the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.”

She describes the grieving process and the importance of taking responsibility for oneself, “But at the end of the day the only person who can move my life ahead, make me happy, and build a new life for my kids is me.” Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl observes, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

When people are able to develop resilience as time passes, instead of post-traumatic stress, they experience post-traumatic growth. She describes post-traumatic growth as taking several different forms, “finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.” As Sheryl described her struggle, “In the depths of acute grief, I did not think I would be capable of growing stronger. But as excruciating days turned into weeks and then months, I realized that I could imagine because I was living it. I had gained strength just by surviving. In the words of an old adage: ‘Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.’”

As time went on she discovered, “But alongside that sadness, I have a much deeper appreciation for what I used to take for granted: family, friends, and simply being alive.” She learned, “In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends.” Quoting Viktor Frankl again, “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” We discover that our lives can find new meaning, “After undergoing a hardship, people have new knowledge to offer those who go through similar experiences. It is a unique source of meaning because it does not just give our lives purpose—it gives our suffering purpose. People help where they’ve been hurt so that their wounds are not in vain.”

We must continue to process the grief and move on, “As Helen Keller put it, ‘When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.’” She quotes survivor Roberto Canessa, “Some people say, ‘If there’s life, there’s hope,’ but for us, it was the opposite: ‘If there’s hope, there’s life.’ ”

When we are honest with others and ourselves there’s powerful evidence that opening up about traumatic events can improve our mental and physical health. If you or someone you know is experiencing a profound hardship, then this is a helpful resource. You may also want to see the corresponding website: optionb.org. The Apostle Paul helps us to see the value of hardships in life,

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5