Sheryl Sandberg – UC Berkeley, 2016 Commencement Speech

Last Updated: May 16, 2024

Sheryl Sandberg – UC Berkeley, 2016 Commencement Speech

Title: Resilience, Gratitude, and Moving Forward

Chancellor Dirks, distinguished faculty, proud parents, devoted friends, and graduates of the Class of 2016:

Thank you for inviting me to be part of this special day. It is truly an honor to address you as you celebrate your achievements and prepare for your future.

Today, I want to talk about three things: resilience, gratitude, and moving forward.

Lessons on Resilience

Embracing Adversity:

Life can change in an instant. One moment everything is perfect, and the next, everything is shattered. Resilience is the ability to move forward despite setbacks. It’s not about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.

Personal Story:

A year and thirteen days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His sudden death left me feeling devastated and broken. I have learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.

Growth from Hardship:

Adversity teaches us profound lessons about life and ourselves. Facing challenges head-on and finding ways to overcome them strengthens our character. I realized that in the midst of real darkness, you can find hope and you can find light.

The Importance of Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude:

Amidst pain and loss, focusing on gratitude can help us heal. Each day, think of three things you are grateful for. This practice can significantly improve your outlook and well-being. When you are grateful, you find more joy and happiness.

Finding Joy in Small Things:

Appreciate the everyday moments and the people around you. Even in the darkest times, there is light to be found in the simplest pleasures. It’s about the small things: a cup of coffee with a friend, a walk in the park, the feel of sunlight on your face.

Moving Forward with Purpose

Building Resilience:

We have a choice in how we respond to life’s challenges. Choose to build resilience by taking proactive steps to move forward. Seeking support from others is crucial. Do not be afraid to lean on your loved ones. Together, we are stronger.

Living with Intent:

Define your purpose and pursue it with passion. Use your talents and education to make a positive impact on the world. You have the power to shape your future and the future of those around you.

Taking Action:

Every small act of kindness and every effort to help others can create ripples of positive change. Do not wait for the perfect moment to make a difference; start now. Your actions, no matter how small, matter.

In Conclusion:

Resilience, gratitude, and purpose are key to navigating life’s challenges and achieving personal fulfillment. Embrace adversity, practice gratitude, and move forward with determination and intent.

Thank you, and congratulations to the UC Berkeley Class of 2016.

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