Become More Resilient by Learning to Take Joy Seriously by Brad Stulberg
Grant — who, among other things, studies how people find motivation and meaning in life — showed up at Goldberg’s funeral, assured Sandberg that even though she is strong, he’d be by her side.
He offered her evidence-based tips on how to become more resilient (for both her own good and for that of her children), then helped her apply them.
The two teamed up to write a book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, which details Sandberg’s experience and the topic of resilience more broadly. Though it was inspired by a deeply personal tragedy, the book is filled with insight that is useful for anyone overcoming loss or failure.
I recently spoke with Grant to discuss the book and some of the key concepts in it.
…You write that there are “three Ps” that often diminish resilience: personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence. Can you briefly describe each?
These are common traps that people fall into after a negative event. It’s so easy to get stuck in rumination: It’s all my fault (personalization); this is going to ruin every aspect of my life (pervasiveness); I’m going to feel like this forever (permanence). There is a wide body of evidence that if you can minimize this kind of thinking, you’ll be more resilient.
Is one most challenging to overcome?
Permanence seems to be the hardest, by far. When we are feeling horrible, we tend to project that out indefinitely, and it’s sticky. It’s hard to convince yourself that the awful feelings won’t last forever.
It seems that a large part of avoiding the three Ps — and being resilient more broadly — is related to the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives. Yet it’s human nature to focus on negatives over positives. How can people encourage themselves to tell positive, but not delusional, stories?
It’s a tightrope walk to embrace the feelings as they come and still find a way to craft a hopeful narrative. We have to give ourselves permission to feel sadness, but at the same, realize some meaning or happiness is out there, and include that in our story, too….