7 Important Life Lessons From Sheryl Sandberg's Commencement Speech

In the year since Sheryl Sandberg's husband, Dave Goldberg, died abruptly, the Facebook chief operating officer has shared small snippets of grieving and moving on. Sandberg shared some more in her commencement speech to UC Berkeley, where she spoke about her husband's death in public for the first time and shared key lessons on resilience and moving forward. Similar to her speech in 2015 at the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, Sandberg revealed to graduates how to conquer the world:

  1. Life is about how you overcome adversity: "After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three P's — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives."
  2. Distracting yourself from a difficult time is sometimes the best you can do: "But then I got drawn into the discussion and for a second — a brief split second — I forgot about death. That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us — quite literally at times."
  3. Accept your feelings — no matter what they are: "We feel anxious — and then we feel anxious that we're anxious. We feel sad — and then we feel sad that we're sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings — but recognize that they will not last forever."
  4. Understand that every day is a gift: "As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had 11 days left? I don't mean blow everything off and party all the time — although tonight is an exception. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is."
  5. Take time to be thankful for what you have: "It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude — gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude — not just on the good days, like today, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it."
  6. Resilience is a trait that will continue to grow within you: "And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself."
  7. You can and will get through the tough times: "Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined."

These are lessons that anyone can learn from — not just college graduates. Watch Sandberg's full speech above, or read it online. Whatever you do, hopefully her words are something you can carry with you for the rest of your life.