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In an interview for Intelligence Squared, education activist Malala Yousafzai took the stage with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to talk about Sandberg’s book Plan B, and to discuss facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy.

Malala is a living example of how this can be achieved. One moment a 15-year-old Malala was riding in her school bus in Pakistan, and the next she was waking up alone in a hospital in England. She had been shot by a Taliban gunman in an attempt to silence her encouragement of education for girls.

Malala says that to get through the ordeal, she started by accepting herself for who she was and being thankful for the things she still had – her family and friends. “None of us can escape sadness, loss or life’s disappointments,” she wrote, " so our best option is to find our option B."

According to Sandberg, gratitude seems to be key in the process of getting from adversity to joy. “Counter intuitively, whenever we face something that’s really hard,” says Sandberg, “and it can be hard and it can be overwhelming, thinking of what could be worse helps us find gratitude for that which we took really for granted before.”

Malala found gratitude mostly in her family, which she says has kept her feeling normal. She also has taken to heart the support she received from her friends and from the letters, cards and gifts that she received from strangers around the world.

“In return,” she says, “you should show the same love and the same care for others. I think that’s the best way to thank back.”

Most of us have heard of post traumatic stress (PTSD), but few recognize the term post traumatic growth even though far more people will experience post traumatic growth than PTSD. Pain is an agent of change. Put simply, says Sandberg, "from the hardest things in our lives, we learn, we grow. Our lives become deeper, more meaningful, we find more purpose, we form deeper relationships, we are more grateful.

“We all live some form of option B,” says Sandberg. “Sometimes it’s true trauma, where you lose your country and your life as you know it, like Malala has been through. Sometimes it’s the kind of trauma of losing someone suddenly, or not suddenly, in your life. Sometimes it can be something small. But no one’s life is exactly as they planned it. At some level we all live option B.”

You can see the whole talk here.
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