• The Sweet Spot

  • The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning
  • By: Paul Bloom
  • Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (225 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.  

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

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 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Sweet Spot

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing

Professor Paul Bloom presents lots to contemplate while elaborating with data and logic on his claim that suffering is essential to both pleasure and meaning in our lives. I cannot recall prior to The Sweet Spot ever before listening to a book a second time immediately after finishing it. Sean Patrick Hopkins does an excellent job f narrating this fascinating book.

8 people found this helpful

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Thought Provoking

The author does a good job of making it clear when he is presenting data vs when he is sharing his own perceptions.

He looks at multiple sides and explains arguments for/against certain beliefs before sharing his opinion on the matter.

He also raises a lot of good questions that are fun to just pause the book and ponder for yourself.

6 people found this helpful

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A great listen, but not too much of added value

This audiobook was hugely enjoyable, because I am very much interested in the topic and it has provided a good summary of theories on what makes people happy. However, it did not go much further beyond that. There is too little of added value provided beyond summarising (perfectly, though) ideas of others.

The narrator is excellent. For the first time I looked up on what else he is narrating, intending to pick a book based on a narrator and not on the content.

1 person found this helpful

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Almost great

The beginning of this in fantastic. The pace and content all seem to point to a great listening experience at the outset. Very quickly the content becomes slow and over-explained to the point that it is borderline insulting to keep listening. I would have stuck with it if the author had not started being overly selective with study results. I enjoy hearing information and opinions, but when the focus of the book shifts from giving me information to make my own conclusions to trying to manipulatively convince me, I'm going to find a new book.

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Highly recommended!

I’ve been a fan of Paul Bloom ever since he appeared as a guest on Sam Harris’s podcast. Like Harris, he strikes the perfect balance of discussing interesting topics while remaining accessible with his writing. He has found the sweet spot! Bloom does an excellent job explaining very nuanced concepts, providing some truly amazing analogies along the way. At first I was disappointed that Bloom wasn’t narrating the book because he is a very talented orator, but Sean Hopkins really does a terrific job. Looking forward to listening to the rest of Bloom’s books!

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We cannot be reminded enough!!

The Sweet spot, the Goldilock zone, the flow state is the best state in which to live. We must be ever present to be able to stay in it. When we do amazing things happen. We live life to the fullest. As with Arithmetic, English and History, learning how to live in this Flow State should be taught as a mandatory class in high school. Well done Mr. Bloom and you as well Mr. Hopkins.

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Smooth philosophical read

This book was very good. The way the author explained the many meanings of life and how everyone perceived it was very good. Definitely recommend!

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Disorganized but worthwhile

Very disorganized . Academic oriented work should not be like a stream of near random thought. Nevertheless, many good points . Narrator excellent.

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Very pretty - and somewhat empty

The premise of this book is that "it will tell you what you didn't know you already knew". This is on the nose. I don't recall much new that I learned from it. BUT, the writing is GREAT, there's plenty research cited, the arguments are sound and the narration is top notch. The pig was completely satisfied, Socrates not so much.

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  • DJ
  • 11-27-21

Meh

I’m a big fan of Bloom’s work but this one was a disappointment. Although I like the overall message I guess, it’s really just an article that’s stretched out too far.