Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

by: Susan Cain (0)

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The Reviews

I've been a Susan Cain fan since Quiet. After reading that book, I recommended it widely, especially to the introverts! I am even more impressed with Bittersweet. I read over a pretty broad spectrum: philosophy, theology, psychology, education, to name a few. Bittersweet pressed all those buttons. I did not detect any weak notes; she masterfully presented and developed the topic. Whether giving a historical or philosophical perspective or personal suggestions for living out the thesis of the book, she nailed it every time. I've already recommended it to several friends, and will continue to do so. This is a masterpiece!

This book is a welcome addition to the Susan Cain library. She addressed introversion in "Quiet" and addresses longing and sadness in "Bittersweet."US society lauds itself on being happy. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness fills our minds despite significant misunderstandings.Cain spends the entirety of this new volume trying to show how longing and sorrow can indeed make us whole. Without proclaiming herself as a stoic, she definitely follows the tenets of stoicism insofar that a path of tranquility is sought out.Does Cain reach her goal? Yes. For many people, this volume will open up pathways that they didn't think existed in much the same way that "Quiet" did. Sorrow and longing are part of our lives, and we should not ignore those emotional things - instead we must realize that sorrow and longing feed into so many important aspects of our lives.In all, Cain helps the reader, yet again, toward a path of becoming a better human being.

The writing was engaging. One thing I really believe is exceptional about an author is the ability to widen an audience, which is exactly what Susan Cain has done here. So many good points to reread personally.“Everything you love, you will eventually lose.” But in the end, love will return in a different form.Meaning making is the heart of humanity. If he could help his patients find their “whys”, even after cancer has taken so much else away, maybe he could save them.Of growth and transformation. It so happens that very few people grow from success. People grow from failure. They grow from adversity. They grow from pain. But the key to fulfillment says Breitbart, is learning to love who you are (which is unconditional and unceasing) rather than what you’ve done.“If we embrace the suffering, if we allow it to lead us deep within ourselves, it will take us deeper than any psychological healing.”I was prompted to read this book by listening to Susan talk about it on the Tim Ferris podcast and I’m glad I did.

Why are we only happy when it rains? Why does only a select group of people acknowledge the musical genius of Tom Waits, and when we meet we seem to have so much in common from world outlook to art to liking good-ole sad songs? Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet which gave introverts like myself an understanding of what we are tries to answer this question in her new book Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. That maybe the sadness we see when we watch a leaf fall, or even a touching advertisement on TV makes us more in touch with the world, and not just a sensitive emo who likes to wear black.Being bittersweet is not mopey, as some would say, or a mood that a person should grow out of, not a weakness that some would use to label. The usual American look to the sunny side, or the religious, God doesn't give you more than you can handle sound much more unhealthy and unrealistic. Bad things happen. To everyone. To quote the Flaming Lips "Everyone you know someday will die." No amount of high hopes or positive aphorisms will change this. However in being bittersweet or whatever you prefer to call it, makes a person more aware, and how things can and will change, for the worse sure, but the better seems much more enjoyable. Instead of learning to turn your frown upside down, live with the frown, but don't let it beat you.Ms. Cain uses an mix of science and personal stories, from her life and from the life of friends both famous and not. The chapter begins with a bittersweet quiz, which after tabulating my scores, left me both happy and sad. The personal stories all fit the chapter and gives proof to that story you have no idea what kind of day the other person is having. The science is a mix of studies on the brain, nervous system and psychology. A reader who finds this interesting is in for a lot of TED talks. Leonard Cohen takes the stage and the power of music, with thoughts on religion, love death and other things that life has to offer.Ms. Cain has written another book that makes people feel seen. That others watch ads and sniffle, puppies playing with babies in the park and have to look away. That listen to the sad songs of bands more than the loud fist pumping works. As a reader you know if this book if for you, but I do think that this is something that everyone bittersweet, sweet, even just candy sweet will get something out of.

When I was a child, I was frequently told, "You're too sensitive" and "You need to smile more" and "Cheer up!" and (the worst, by far) "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about." My Depression-era parents were taught "keep your chin up," "don't complain," "look on the sunny side." When I was touched emotionally by words or events, I cried easily, and it embarrassed and shamed them. I learned, by the time I was a teenager, to stuff that, be stoic. I didn't cry for years--until my first child was born. I haven't stopped crying since.This book is for the 'sensitives,' the 'melancholy babies,' the folks who've been discouraged from letting those tears pour. It took me weeks to read it because it felt much like an interactive therapy session. I love that Cain includes links and references to songs, videos, poems, and so forth. I savored this book because of the truth of Susan Cain's words, but also for her humanity, her eloquence, and the validation she offers on every page as a gift. I am owning and embracing all of my melancholia. It's what makes me who I am. Thank you, Susan, a thousand times.

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole
⭐ 4.5 💛 675
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