The Sweet Spot  Book Summary - The Sweet Spot  Book explained in key points
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The Sweet Spot summary

Paul Bloom

The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search For Meaning

4.5 (725 ratings)
21 mins
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    The Sweet Spot
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    What's in it for me? Find the sweet spot between pain and pay-off.

    So, you like salt and vinegar crisps. You like the pinch at the back corner of your mouth, and though it doesn’t overwhelm, you love the sensory kick it gives you. Or maybe you’re into habanero sauce; you're into the perfumey fragrance of the chili that snakes its way through your sinuses – that fiery, blinding pain that stops everything, all thought and time. How about pushing yourself at the gym – doing that one last squat as your thighs quiver at the exertion?

    Sounds like punishment, but there’s always a pay-off. There’s always gratification at the end of these ordeals.

    So what is it about that feeling – that mix of pleasure and pain? Why do so many of us microdose on uncomfortable experiences like this? Is this our way of flirting with our mortality? We all know that at some point we’ll meet death and so maybe this is a way of forcing ourselves to remember that life is meant to be felt.

    OK, yes, with some perspective, the kind of pain that I’ve just described can be read as “trivial” – a fleeting, instant bit of suffering, for a moment of pleasure. So what about the more serious or more meaningful choices that we make voluntarily that also result in the potential for pain? Like going to fight in a war, or donating a kidney? What’s going on there – why do so many of us sign up for that?

    These are some of the conundrums The Sweet Spot gets into. It doesn’t claim to be the authority on the human appetite for pain and suffering, but it does share some interesting insights, which can give us pause for thought. 

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    What is The Sweet Spot about?

    The Sweet Spot (2021) is a refreshing antidote to all the books we read about being positive at all costs. It argues that negative experiences like pain, suffering, and discomfort are not something to be shied away from. In fact, they can add value to our lives. Instead of trying to avoid discomfort, we need to find the right discomfort. That is, the kind of challenge that makes our lives meaningful. 

    Who should read The Sweet Spot ?

    • Self-help fans who are tired of all the toxic positivity
    • Psychology lovers looking for an original perspective on how pain and suffering affect our lives
    • Reflective seekers looking to understand what will give their lives a sense of purpose

    About the Author

    Paul Bloom, a psychologist, teaches at the University of Toronto. He’s also the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University. A prolific writer, he’s been published in scientific journals as well as the New Yorker and the Atlantic. His other books include Just Babies, How Pleasure Works, and Against Empathy.

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