What is your Option B?

Setbacks, problem, painful situation, and unexpected life’s twist may be considered as someone else’s “drama” but what if these are your reality?

It is always easy to judge other people and claim that life will get better but adversities really happen as much as we want to avoid them. Considering all various bombings, wars, and attacks that are currently happening right now all over the world, how can one really bounce back? Whether it may be a sudden regional incident or an excruciating personal dilemma, how can we all develop resilience and find happiness once again no matter how impossible it can be?

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Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant pushes the readers to take into account various perspectives as Sandberg narrates her journey on how she copes up with her husband’s unexpected death. The book also provides various examples of problems in work, studies, relationships, health, and life in general.

Words are powerful, especially if they can touch one’s innermost cries. Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book which I hope to empower and lessen one’s load.

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There are no words to describe the pain and consequence when life hits you hard. For me, I always blame myself because I think it is much better than to blame someone else or the situation for our own misfortunes.

This book encourages every reader to practice self-compassion. To accept the negative situations in life without putting one’s self down. It is a matter of being brave to be honest and  conquer one’s own demons without falling into depression or self-destruction.

“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… Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive, or permanent makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope” (16).

“I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again” (29).

“Self-confidence is critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we dwell on our flaws. We fail to embrace new challenges and learn new skills. We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity. We decide not to apply for a new job, and the promotion we miss becomes the moment our career stalled. We don’t muster the courage to ask for a first date, and the future love of our life becomes the one who got away” (64).

“When we look for joy, we often focus on the big moments. Graduating from school. Having a child. Getting a job. Being reunited with family. But happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity” (100).

“[T]he love we need to lead a fulfilling life cannot only come from others but must come from inside us as well” (172).

Others 

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In terms of other people, there are two perspectives. First is how one will react to the misfortunes of others and how one will act or not act at all as a response. In times of trouble, I learn who my real friends are. It is also surprising to know that sometimes one can also find comfort in the company of strangers because they are just there beside you. Eventually, these strangers will begin to be one of your true friends as well. Thus,  it is always not too late to create meaningful relationships with others, if something ended.

“Not everyone feels comfortable talking openly about personal tragedy. We all make our own choices about when and where and if we want to express our feelings. Still, there’s powerful evidence that opening up about traumatic events can improve mental and physical health. Speaking to a friend or family member often helps people understand their own emotions and feel understood” (39).

“When people close to us face adversity, how do we give them a button to press? While it seems obvious that friends want to support friends going through a crisis, there are barriers that block us. There are two different emotional responses to the pain of others: empathy, which motivates us to help, and distress, which motivates us to avoid” (47).

Together

Some adversities do not only affect an individual but they can also have larger implication to personal relationships or in a specific society/country in general.

“Even in the face of atrocity, elevation leads us to look at our similarities instead of our differences. We see the potential for good in others and gain hope that we can survive and rebuild” (136).

We are all currently working on our first options. For me, Option A is our best choice on how to live our life but if something unexpected happens, it is not bad to have an Option B.

I’m glad that sometimes this newly improved option will help us pick up the pieces of our first option. Option B helps us to bounce back higher in life and create more meaningful relationships because of the growth brought by our past experiences.

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Paano Ba ‘To?!: How to Survive Growing Up

I’m living in Europe alone and it takes time to get real friends. Most of my friends and family are also busy in the Philippines ,aside from the fact that we are also dealing with different timezones, so I ask myself how can I cope with all the challenges and difficulties that I encounter here?

I really need help!

Last semester, we discussed about self-help or guide books. These are categorized as a form of literature that tells us what to do and empower us to rise among the difficulties, problems, or norms that we need to face.

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I ask a friend to bring Bianca Gonzalez-Intal’s book, Paano Ba ‘To?!, from the Philippines because I believe that this is the closest self-help book that will address our current Filipino generation.

At first, I was really bothered by all the doodles in the book because it’s not really typical to have that in a new “normal” book. On the contrary when I was at the middle, I have this sudden realization that this book is so personal.

The doodles make it more realistic, open, and relatable. It’s like Bianca’s invitation for us to take part and discuss some issues because we want to, need to or because it has been a long time that we’ve tried to forget or deny to face them. I appreciate how she opens and shares her life in the book because in our society today, where in everyone has something to say, being that open is indeed commendable. I really also like how she gets various perspectives about a certain issue: there are a lot of people who also share their experiences and experts who share their professional knowledge for more “objectivity”.

I’m a “quote-collector” and I really like the idea that she incorporates a quote after each chapter. Maybe it’s better if it is perforated so we can just simply tear and post it on our bedroom’s wall. In terms of style, it’s easy to read and resembles like a magazine. However, I prefer the content to be succinct because there are some recurring statements that I feel should belong and should be already settled from the previous chapter.

Nonetheless, reading this book gives a lot of refreshing insights to reflect upon.

“Living abroad is a conscious decision. So if you move abroad and continue to ‘live in Manila’ in your mind, you will always get homesick.”

“If you, for example, keep thinking about the things or friends you don’t have in your new city, you’ll never see what it can offer you.”

“You can’t exactly plan how your life will pan out. You can focus on a direction, but sometimes, doors you never expected will open for you and it is up to you to take the risk.”

“You cannot please everyone. And you shouldn’t want to please anyone, or else you will drive yourself crazy. Listen, take what might be constructive criticism, then let it go. Don’t let it get the best of you. And most of all, learn to laugh at yourself!”

“Count your blessings, not your problems.”

“And the most important lesson, is that as long as you keep working for it, what is truly for you will not pass you by.”

“Try staying present in each day.”

“If you hinder yourself, if you are the one stopping yourself, if you are the one judging yourself, then what is left for you? How can you expect others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?”