Susan Cain is an American writer and lecturer whose viral TED Talk – The Power of Introverts has been viewed over 30 million times. She is the author of the bestseller QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (released in January 2012) and the author of Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole (released in April 2022)
This podcast episode intrigued me so much that I started reading Susan Cain’s book, Bittersweet, and will also be reading her first book, Quiet.
I highly recommend anyone who wants to explore the idea that embracing the bittersweetness of life will make for a richer and likely more satisfying life. I want to share with you some of my favorite parts to encourage you to listen to the full podcast when you have time!
What I Learned From (WILF) – The Tim Ferriss Show #583 Susan Cain
- “Bittersweetness, itself, I define as the state in which you know, you accept, and you truly inhabit the idea that life is always simultaneously joy and sorrow.” – Susan Cain
- “I feel like the only point of writing really, at least to me, is telling the truth of what it’s like to be alive, telling truths that people don’t really talk about in everyday life because if they talked about it everyday life, you could just get it just from chatting with your friends or your colleagues or whomever, but there’s something about writing and art in general where people are just really digging deep.” – Susan Cain
- “…at the end of the day I think for a lot of people, they climb the mountain, they realize that it doesn’t solve all their problems. Whether that’s prestige in academia, whatever your currency happens to be. Lots of money. You may get to a point, if you win the game you’re playing where you realize for sake, this actually doesn’t fix anything. Or it fixes very few things.” – Tim Ferriss
Life is Always Simultaneously Joy and Sorrow
We are basically taught, one way or another, that when things are going well and the company’s doing well and the family’s happy and everything, that’s the main road, and when things go wrong, it’s the detour from the main road. And just adopting the frame of mind or to my mind, just accepting the truth that both of these things are the main road because that’s what life is.Susan Cain, The Tim Ferriss Show #583
As someone who used to think that when things go wrong, it’s a detour from the main road of life, I no longer think so. That’s not to say I welcome sorrow, rather I realize that sorrow is pretty much unavoidable. Therefore, it would be better to recognize its existence and understand that it can teach me things that joy alone cannot. Thank you Susan Cain for helping me recognize that sorrow is a part of the main road of life!
Writing to Tell the Truth of What It’s Like to be Alive
Susan Cain writes about difficult topics because it’s what gives her writing meaning. Sometimes I think that’s what I’d like to do too because it seems nobler. Yet, I don’t think I can write about difficult topics currently because it would be writing from a wound and not a scar.
Right now, I think I like to write uplifting, world-building, fantasy novels, that provide readers with an escape and a bit of inspiration for when life gets difficult because those are the types of books I love to read the best. Maybe one day I can write from a scar and poke fun at it instead of sounding complainy.
Getting to the Top Fixes Very Few Things
I’ve been listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast since 2017 when, my dear friend, Catan, first introduced me to it. Back then, Tim Ferriss was all about how to become more successful and earn lots of money. In recent years, after becoming wildly successful and having interviewed so many billionaires, Tim Ferriss realized that money, prestige, social clout, etc. do not solve one’s inner problems. Getting to the top means a person no longer has money-related problems, but will still have to wrestle with their inner demons from their past to be mentally and emotionally at peace.
Tim Ferriss’s words in addition to the books I’ve read on Stoicism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism have me thinking deeply about the inner demons that I need to face to be at peace.
Overall Thoughts on The Tim Ferriss Show #583 Susan Cain
I found this podcast conversation illuminating because it helped me understand why sorrow is as much part of life as joy. To live authentically, it may be better to try to understand, come to terms with, and grow from the sorrow you experienced than to pretend everything is good all the time.