The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning

The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning

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, self-help, abandoned, philosophy, how-humans-work, 2022, nbic-books, psych, audio, 2021, Psychology, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Self Help, Science, Biology, Social Science, Health

From the author of Against Empathy comes a different kind of happiness book, one that shows us how suffering is an essential source of both pleasure and meaning in our lives

Why do we so often seek out physical pain and emotional turmoil? We go to movies that make us cry, or scream, or gag. We poke at sores, eat spicy foods, immerse ourselves in hot baths, run marathons. Some of us even seek out pain and humiliation in sexual role-play. Where do these seemingly perverse appetites come from?

Drawing on groundbreaking findings from psychology and brain science, The Sweet Spot shows how the right kind of suffering sets the stage for enhanced pleasure. Pain can distract us from our anxieties and help us transcend the self. Choosing to suffer can serve social goals; it can display how tough we are or, conversely, can function as a cry for help. Feelings of fear and sadness are part of the pleasure of immersing ourselves in play and fantasy and can provide certain moral satisfactions. And effort, struggle, and difficulty can, in the right contexts, lead to the joys of mastery and flow.

But suffering plays a deeper role as well. We are not natural hedonists—a good life involves more than pleasure. People seek lives of meaning and significance; we aspire to rich relationships and satisfying pursuits, and this requires some amount of struggle, anxiety, and loss. Brilliantly argued, witty, and humane, Paul Bloom shows how a life without chosen suffering would be empty—and worse than that, boring.   

Title:The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning
ISBN:9780062910561
Format Type:

    The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning Reviews

  • J Earl

    The Sweet Spot from Paul Bloom is an enlightening read that draws as many points from the reader's own mind as from any theory. I'll explain momentarily, but what Bloom excels at is explaining his ide...

  • Ali

    Disappointing Read! No insight or fresh perspective, pages filled with anything the writer has ever heard, read, watched or experienced just to prove a vague hypothesis. A worthy addition in a happine...

  • Marne - Reader By the Water

    Not a good fit for me, so I’m abandoning it at 10%. Impressed that in these few pages, the author quoted both Viktor Frankl and Eminem....

  • Zibby Owens

    This book looks into the question of "why do we sometimes choose to suffer?" It looks at how we suffer in big ways and small ways, sometimes out of choice. For example, we eat spicy foods, listen to s...

  • Slim

    Probably the only book I havent finished in my entire life. Paul Bloom loosely strings together movies, random quotes and personal stories to demonstrate the importance of pain and its effect on happi...

  • Chris Boutt

    It took me far too long to start reading Paul Bloom’s books, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. After binging his other books like Just Babies, How Pleasure Works, and Against Empathy, I was itc...

  • Stetson

    Paul Bloom, a well-known Canadian cognitive psychologist, has added a third popular science book to his body of work, The Sweet Spot. It makes for a great addition to his prior books on the innate, ev...

  • Daniel

    This was awesome! Super interesting. Basically, humans find pain and suffering to be compelling. We actually are drawn towards it, IF we have some semblance of control over it. For example, I am a man...

  • Andrew Nierenhausen

    3.5/5This was a pretty enjoyable book. Nothing in it was truly surprising or groundbreaking, but it was a good primer on the topic of human suffering. Bloom often references Frankl, and Man's Search f...

  • Simon Tudge

    Not quite mind blowing, but it's a nice short and snappy book filled with interesting ideas and thoughts, so well worth the read....