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 (746 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

The Sweet Spot by Paul Bloom explores the importance of pleasure and how we should be seeking it out more in our lives. Bloom argues that by enhancing or adding pleasures to our lives, we can improve our overall well-being and happiness.

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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. 

    The Sweet Spot Review

    The Sweet Spot by Paul Bloom (2017) explores the complexity of pleasure and the psychology behind our desires. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers fascinating insights into the science of pleasure and why we enjoy what we do, allowing readers to understand themselves and others on a deeper level.
    • Explores how our desires are shaped by a combination of biology, culture, and personal experience, providing a well-rounded perspective on what brings us happiness.
    • Challenges common assumptions about pleasure, providing fresh perspectives that will make readers question their own beliefs and broaden their understanding of the human experience.

    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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    The Sweet Spot  FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Sweet Spot?

    The main message of The Sweet Spot is finding the perfect balance between effort and enjoyment in life.

    How long does it take to read The Sweet Spot?

    The reading time for The Sweet Spot varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Sweet Spot a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Sweet Spot is worth reading as it offers valuable insights into finding fulfillment by optimizing our goals and happiness.

    Who is the author of The Sweet Spot?

    The author of The Sweet Spot is Paul Bloom.