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The Power of Bittersweet Emotions with Susan Cain

Susan Cain is the author of Quiet Journal, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which spent eight years on The New York Times best seller list and has been translated into 40 languages. Susan’s TED talk has been viewed over 40 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks. LinkedIn named her the Top 6th Influencer in the World, just behind Richard Branson and Melinda Gates. Susan partners with Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant and Dan Pink to curate the Next Big Idea Book Club. They donate all their proceeds to children’s literacy programs. Her new masterpiece, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, is available now. Visit Susan at susancain.net.

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What is the power of a having bittersweet outlook?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably felt pressure to always look on the bright side and act happy. No matter what. While there is a place for optimism and positivity, you may be doing yourself a disservice by burying your sad and melancholy feelings all the time.

To explore this topic deeper, I’m excited to have bestselling author Susan Cain on our show today. Susan is the author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids. Through her powerful TED talk, she has helped millions of introverts feel seen and understood. And in her latest talk, she is helping people find connection through bittersweet emotions. Finally, she discovered in her recent book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, that sadness and melancholy are key to achieving transcendence and feeling connected to others.

Susan began her journey to understand what draws people to rainy days and sad songs. Since then, she discovered those bittersweet emotions can help open your heart and see the world through new eyes. Listen in as Susan explains how finding beauty in sorrow, heartache, and longing can help you feel less alone.

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"We are all in this state of living in a deeply beautiful, yet deeply imperfect world together. "

Susan Cain

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  • Susan began this journey by wanting to understand why sad music didn’t make her feel sad. [2:49]
  • How the sublime emotions create a sense of connection within us through the tragedy paradox.  [4:17]
  • Why older people tend to be happier and have more gratitude according to research done by Laura Carstensen. [6:21]
  • Embracing this outlook can help open you up to deeper wisdom and greater happiness. [6:58]
  • Why opening up to others is so important from an evolutionary and physiological standpoint. [8:03]
  • Take the Bittersweet quiz and find out what higher level core traits are associated to those emotions. [9:52]
  • Susan explains that you can decide how you view the world, choose how events impact you, and why that is so powerful. [12:04]
  • How to transform your pain into a form of healing and create a sense of togetherness. [13:11]
  • Listen to Susan’s evolving Bittersweet Spotify playlist. [15:01]
  • Take a screenshot, share, and tag us (@JimKwik & @SusanCainAuthor) and tell us if you find comfort or inspiration in a rainy day or what is your favorite bittersweet moment that you’ve experienced.
  • I will share my favorites and gift a few copies to lucky listeners.
  • Be sure to get a copy of Susan’s new book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, here.
  • If you haven’t heard Susan’s powerful TED talk, The Power of Introverts.
  • And listen to her newest TED talk, The Hidden Power of Sad Songs & Rainy Days.


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