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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

A good life involves more than just pleasure. Suffering is essential too.

It seems obvious that pleasure leads to happiness - and pain does the opposite. And yet we are irresistibly drawn to a host of experiences that truly hurt, from the exhilarating fear of horror movies or extreme sport, to the wrenching sadness of a song or novel, to the gruelling challenges of exercise, work, creativity and having a family.

In The Sweet Spot, pre-eminent psychologist Paul Bloom explores the pleasures of suffering and explains why the activities that provide most satisfaction are often the ones that involve greatest sacrifice. He argues that embracing this truth is the key to a life well lived. 

Drawing on ground-breaking findings from psychology and brain science, he shows how the right kind of suffering sets the stage for enhanced pleasure, and how pain itself can serve a variety of valuable functions: to distract us from our anxieties or even express them, to help us transcend the self or project our identity, or as a gateway to the joys of mastery and flow.

As Bloom argues, deep down we all aspire to lives of meaning and significance, and that means some amount of struggle, anxiety and loss. After all, if the things that mean most to us were easy, what would be the point?

Endlessly fascinating and counter-intuitive, this deeply humane and enlightening enquiry is packed with unexpected insight into the human condition.

Revealing the surprising roots of lasting happiness, The Sweet Spot by pre-eminent psychologist Paul Bloom explains why suffering is an essential source of both pleasure and meaning in our lives.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Paul Bloom (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Paul Bloom can always be counted on to take your confident assumptions about humanity and turn them upside down." (Susan Cain, author of Quiet)

"An exhilarating antidote to toxic positivity, this captivating book will challenge you to rethink your vision of a good life." (Adam Grant, author of Think Again)

"This delightful and wonderfully written book gets to the heart of one of the most important questions in modern thought, illustrating how complex and paradoxical human happiness really is." (Greg Lukianoff, coauthor of The Coddling of the American Mind)

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Highly recommended!

Thoroughly interesting listen. A compelling and plausible challenge to the positive thinking genre. Also the narration was excellent.

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Really good

Brilliant book, loved every moment could not turn it off, amazingly narrated by Sean Patrick Hopkins, written by Paul Bloom

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Interesting discussion framed by pleasant prose.

This book offers a valuable discussion of overlooked issues and inspires deep reflection. Strongly recommended. Slightly sad Bloom did not voice it himself as he has a deeply mellifluous voice on podcasts.

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A worthwhile deep dive

This book really did pick up the pace after the first few chapters.

A lot of the earlier book topic headings and studies quoted will be familiar to those who have read various other similar authors over the years (with reference to the ‘hedonic treadmill’ and our pain/pleasure responses in day to day life etc,.) but the lens of suffering and its role, as well as the authors unique take, is kept up enough to ensure that it doesn’t end up being too repetitive.

The meat of the book really gets into it about half way through and I found it super insightful from there onwards!