A couple weeks ago I was sitting inside a Miami Beach restaurant with some friends over a shared dessert. Let’s call it girl talk. One of the girls brought up the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. The next day I saw the book on the first page of a bookseller’s website. Then I was hearing about it through other acquaintances. It was everywhere!
It Really Was Everywhere
Of course, I had to buy the book, but I started thinking about the subject behind it. The subtitle of the book is Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. A few days later I opened up the Podcast app on my phone and clicked on the TED Radio Hour. The first unplayed podcast that came up on the feed was titled To Endure.
This idea of facing hardships and living past it kept coming up everywhere I turned. It was surely not to be ignored. And it wasn’t a coincidence. At least, I didn’t want to take it that way. Some may know this illusion as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. And boy was I stuck in it!
So I started reading Option B and became even more interested in learning about people’s coping mechanisms. And because I love diagrams, I will share one from the book that is by far the easiest to remember. The authors share the “ring theory” from psychologist Susan Silk. Basically, you start by drawing a small circle around the names of people in the center of the tragedy.
Then the author describes how you draw a bigger circle around that and write the names of the people who are next most affected. You keep doing this until you have extended to acquaintances or those farthest from the crisis. The end goal is to realize your role in the event. In the authors’ words, “…offer comfort in [the circle] and seek comfort out.”
It made complete sense. And though I am not personally facing a difficult situation right now, this exercise made me conscious of the fact that if I were, I hope I would seek help when I needed it. I also hope that I would be aware of the need around me and put on my compassion glasses to see it.
TED Talk on Endurance
There was more. During the To Endure episode on the TED Radio Hour, I heard Zainab Salbi share her story about watching bombs go off through her window as a child. Here is a woman with every right to grow up angry at the world. Instead, she chose to see how life goes on and people endure. She then went on to dedicate her life to help women who live in war zones.
It was a message about keeping the beauty going in the smallest moments. During the podcast, they shared that hope that something good can happen kept these women fighting longer. It pulled them out of their darkness. And in the end, they could see that love can be there, and things can be better.
Where does Hope come from?
The more I heard these voices, I asked myself a question that I realized I already knew the answer to. Where did their hope come from? And if you still think all this sounds like a coincidence, let me tell you about a message I heard on the Fresh Life app by Levi Lusko titled Counting People. He was reading from Psalm 23.
Some of the verses in this psalm have been made popular. But the message behind it is a message of peace. And in a few versus, God has already given us all the steps we need to take to build that resilience we sometimes lack. Difficult days are ahead, as Levi reminds us, but there are proven ways to prepare for those days.
How to Cultivate Hope
I have summarized some of those from pastor Levi’s preaching below:
- Take care of yourself with rest. Psalm 23:2
- Open your bible on your own time; don’t wait for Sunday. Psalm 23:3
- Trust that the plans of God are for good and not evil. Psalm 23:4
- Train for the trials you are not in. Psalm 23:5
- Remember the promise that in Him we have eternal life. Do not fear death. Psalm 23:6
Keep Watering Your Side of the Grass
Let’s not wait to rush to God when times are bad, or when we are facing the impossible. Do what you can now while you are in green pastures. When things are good, create some margin for difficult days that are sure to pass.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord