AUSTIN, TX – NOVEMBER 02: Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the Texas Conference For Women 2017 at Austin Convention Center on November 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Texas Conference for Women)

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Finding joy, being grateful and helping others are key to being resilient and living a fulfilling life, said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

One of the most important lessons Sandberg learned through adversity is gratitude.

“Reminding ourselves of gratitude is so important,” Sandberg said.

After the sudden death of her husband, Dave Goldberg in 2015 at the age of 47, Sandberg felt extreme despair and loss. But through that tragic experience, she also began to embrace gratitude. She turned 48 last August and instead of being upset about getting older and almost being 50, she instead felt a deep sense of accomplishment that she had made it to 48.

The only two choices in life are “we grow older or we don’t,” Sandberg said. “Every year is a gift.”

Sandberg, author of Lean In, joined Adam Grant, author of Originals, in writing the book: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. On Thursday, they spoke during the keynote luncheon to more than 7,500 women attending the sold-out 18th Annual Texas Conference for Women.

Today, Sandberg is a profoundly different person, she said.

Sandberg wrote Option B with Grant to share her experiences on dealing with loss after devastating events to embrace life, rediscover joy and persevere.

“Even without the trauma, can you wake up every single morning grateful to be alive?” Sandberg asked. “Probably not. Can you wake up a lot more mornings being grateful for that gift of life? I think we all can and that’s what we’re hoping Option B hopes to do.”

Grant said there’s a self-help section in all bookstores, but there isn’t a help others section.

“Which is really sad,” he said.

In the face of tragedy, it is important for others to show up and show support, Grant said.

Before Dave’s death, Sandberg said when she had friends or family going through devastating events she would say something once.

“And then I would never mention it again because I didn’t want to remind them,” she said. “Someone walks up to me two and a half years later and says I’m sorry for your loss, I don’t think oh I forgot. How could you remind me of such an awful thing? I know Dave is gone. I know that every single day. And the woman sitting next to you who is going through Chemo, she knows that too.”

It’s hard to reach out and not everyone wants to talk about everything all the time, but it’s key to make the effort to say, “I’m here if you want too,” Sandberg said.

“The power of doing anything is better than the offer to do something,” Sandberg said.

Too often people think someone else is going to show up with a hug and a stuffed animal, but all of us can do a lot more to be there for others, she said.
It’s also important for people who have gone through traumatic events to recapture the joy in their lives, Sandberg said.

At a party one night, a friend asked her dance and Sandberg had a great time until she burst into tears. She realized she was happy and she felt a flood of guilt because Dave was gone, and she didn’t think she deserved to be happy again.

But Adam Grant told her she needed to do more things in her life that made her happy and brought her joy.

To recapture joy in her life, Sandberg writes down three moments of joy that occurred throughout the day before she goes to bed and they can be small things like “my daughter gave me a hug without being asked” or “my coffee tasted great this morning.”

Before Dave died, Sandberg went to bed every single night worrying about what she did wrong.

Now giving herself a moment at night to focus on joy, helps her focus on joy throughout the day, she said.