The author of the bestselling phenomenonQuietreveals how embracing a bittersweet mindset may hold the key to true connection and help us transcend a culture that's more comfortable with enforced happiness.
With her mega-bestsellerQuiet,Susan Cain urged our society to cultivate space for the undervalued, indispensable introverts among us, thereby revealing an untapped power hidden in plain sight. Now, she employs the same mix of research, storytelling, and memoir to explore the riches that a different outlook has to offer our happiness-focused yet torn-apart culture. Western psychology traditionally regards sorrow and longing as maladaptive at best, pathological at worst. We live in a culture that encourages us to telegraph how happy—or, on the flip side, outraged—we are. As a result, our collective empathy is spiraling downward, and we’re ill-equipped to deal with our personal troubles. Yet a richer, truer existence is possible. The bittersweet way is the essence of creativity and a shortcut to love. Our artistic and spiritual traditions—amplified by recent scientific research—teach us the power that lies in a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy when beholding beauty. They recognize that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired. A song in a minor key, an elegiac poem, or even a touching TV commercial all have the ability to bring us to this sublime, even holy, state of mind—and, ultimately, to a greater kinship with our fellow humans. At a time of profound discord,Bittersweetbrings us together in deep and unexpected ways. Susan Cain paves the way to an authentic, elevated life that celebrates the conundrum of being alive in a deeply flawed and stubbornly beautiful world.