Susan Cain shows the power of ‘bittersweetness’—a tendency towards sorrow and longing, an acute awareness of passing time and a piercing joy when beholding beauty. But what are the powers of a bittersweet, melancholic outlook?, she asks. And why has our culture been so blind to its value?

Bittersweetness recognises that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired. As Bittersweet shows, our obsession with happiness is not making us happy, healthy or whole. It’s only by embracing our darker emotions—as well as the light—that we discover our deepest meaning and connection, love and joy. It can change the way we work, the way we create and the way we love—for it is the hidden source of our love stories, moonshots and masterpieces.

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Following a trail of centuries-old artistic and wisdom traditions as well as contemporary psychology and management research, and reflecting on the emotional shifts of recent times, Cain reveals how bittersweetness is the key to leading a full and satisfying life. Using examples ranging from music and cinema to parenting and business, she shows how understanding bittersweetness will allow us to weather life’s transitions; yet, until now, its power has been hiding in plain sight.

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