Tue, 9 November 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT


The Surprising Roots of Lasting Happiness

Yale Psychology Professor Paul Bloom In Conversation With Matthew Stadlen

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‘Paul Bloom can always be counted on to take your confident assumptions about humanity and turn them upside down’ (SUSAN CAIN, author of Quiet).

A good life involves more than just pleasure. Suffering is essential too.

It seems obvious that pleasure leads to happiness – and pain does the opposite. And yet we are irresistibly drawn to a host of experiences that truly hurt, from the exhilarating fear of horror movies or extreme sport, to the wrenching sadness of a song or novel, to the gruelling challenges of exercise, work, creativity and having a family.

In this livestream event, pre-eminent psychologist Paul Bloom will explore the pleasures of suffering and explains why the activities that provide most satisfaction are often the ones that involve greatest sacrifice. He will argue that embracing this truth is the key to a life well lived.

Drawing on ground-breaking findings from psychology and brain science, he will show how the right kind of suffering sets the stage for enhanced pleasure, and how pain itself can serve a variety of valuable functions: to distract us from our anxieties or even express them, to help us transcend the self or project our identity, or as a gateway to the joys of mastery and flow.

Deep down we all aspire to lives of meaning and significance, and that means some amount of struggle, anxiety and loss. After all, if the things that mean most to us were easy, what would be the point?

Endlessly fascinating and counter-intuitive, don’t miss this deeply humane and enlightening enquiry packed with unexpected insight into the human condition.


Praise for Paul Bloom’s The Sweet Spot:

‘An exhilarating antidote to toxic positivity, this captivating book will challenge you to rethink your vision of a good life’ – Adam Grant, author of Think Again

‘This delightful and wonderfully written book gets to the heart of one of the most important questions in modern thought, illustrating how complex and paradoxical human happiness really is’ – Greg Lukianoff, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind

‘Paul Bloom is a phenomenal psychologist. His research is always thought-provoking, and his writing clear and eloquent’ Maria Konnikova, author of The Biggest Bluff

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Paul Bloom

Professor of Psychology, Toronto and Yale

Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at University of Toronto and the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University. His research explores the psychology of morality, identity and pleasure. Bloom is the recipient of multiple awards and honours, including most recently the million-dollar Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic and Guardian. He is the author or editor of eight books, including Just Babies, How Pleasure Works, Descartes’ Baby and most recently Against Empathy.

Matthew Stadlen

Broadcaster, writer and regular How To Academy host.

Matthew Stadlen is a broadcaster, writer and regular How To Academy host. Previously he was an LBC presenter, wrote The Matthew Stadlen Interview for the Telegraph and presented the TV series Five Minutes With and On The Road With for the BBC. He is a birdwatcher and photographer, and his book How To See Birds is out now. Twitter: @matthewstadlen