In A Moving Commencement Speech, Sheryl Sandberg Draws On Her Grief To Teach Resilience

"You just might become the very best version of yourself."

"We are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined."


Last year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg unexpectedly lost her husband Dave Goldberg during a vacation in Mexico. Over the weekend, she opened up about her grief in an emotional commencement speech to the graduating class of the University of California, Berkeley.

The Lean In author drew on the work of psychologist Martin Seligman to teach the three P's of resilience — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence. 

"The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives."

Personalization is learning that "not everything that happens to us happens because of us." Sandberg said she reacted to her husband's death by blaming herself, believing there was something she could have done to prevent it. She eventually accepted that this belief was not true.

Pervasiveness involves understanding that our hardships don't have to affect every aspect of our lives. As Sandberg explained, this can apply to situations as big as losing a loved one or as small as missing a skill in your first week of work.

Permanence is about realizing that our negative feelings won't last forever. Sandberg told graduates that they're "probably feeling one of [the three P's] right now about something in your life." Recognizing this is the first step to fixing it. 

"Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience."

Sandberg also touched on the importance of gratitude. She said her New Year's resolution this year has been to write down three moments of joy before she goes to bed, adding that it has changed her life. She urged those listening to do the same, in order to end the day with positive thinking.

Despite the serious subject matter of her speech, Sandberg still made room for humor, joking that the fourth P of resilience is pizza from Berkeley's local restaurant Cheese Board.

Watch Sandberg's speech in full below:

(H/T: Vox)


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