Paul Bloom: The Pleasure of Suffering

Why suffering is necessary for a meaningful life

Western culture today equates the pursuit of happiness with seeking out pleasure and comfort. But without the pursuit of experiences and goals that entail a certain degree of suffering, our lives would be meaningless, argues Paul Bloom in this interview.


The fundamental thesis of your new book, The Sweet Spot:  The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning, is that suffering is necessary for a happy and meaningful life. Why do you think that claim can come as a surprise to some?

Many people, including many psychologist colleagues, think that we are hedonists—that pleasure is all that matters. If this is your perspective, then the importance of suffering can get missed.

Now a smart hedonist can concede some role of suffering—maybe suffering now leads to more pleasure later, and the math works out s

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