480: What is Sadness Good For? | Susan Cain

Many of us may have a reflexive reaction when we notice we’re feeling down: we want it to go away. Maybe we think something is wrong with us and we automatically self medicate in any number of ways. But how do we square this with the fact that many of us may also really like sad movies and music? And making things even more complex, how do we compute the fact that the universe is constantly handing us opportunities to feel awe, gratitude, and joy, often at the exact same moment that sadness arises?


What’s going on with this complex and conflicted relationship we have with a perfectly normal human emotion?


Our guest today Susan Cain has written a whole book about this called Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. In this book, she explores how the capacity to tune in to the inherent joy and sadness of the human situation can be a superpower for connection.


In this episode we talk about:


  • Whether bittersweetness is a skill you can hone
  • The relationship between bittersweetness and the Buddhist concept of impermanence
  • Why we feel embarrassed about discussing sorrow and longing 
  • How sadness can be transmuted into creativity, and how that creativity can lead us out of sadness
  • And how America, a country founded on so much heartache, turned into, in her words, “a culture of normative smiles”




Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/susan-cain-480


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