Top critical review
some interesting insights , but unnecessarily drawn out
Reviewed in the United States on November 2, 2021
If the book was edited with the safe amount of care that went into editing the preface, this could have been a much more enjoyable read. Instead, the book jumps around various topics with no clear "golden thread" to tie these observations/interpretations. This lack of narrative arc is made even more painful due to lack of a discussion focusing on "so what?" and what exactly is the "sweet spot".
The premise is well articulated - some chosen types of suffering can lead to pleasure later, life with "meaning" is better lived than one of pleasure, and some suffering is necessary to attain higher goals. The subjectivity in all these statements is self-evident, but the author manages to explain that well.
The initial chapters discuss various aspects of happiness/satisfaction/motivation using mostly other studies that have been used in the behavioral economics genre. Discussion on motivational pluralism is particularly useful. But the reliance on predominantly Western research and literature (and some of them from late 1800s) becomes very apparent in the discussion on "opponent-process" theory. (Even secular readers of Eastern, particularly Buddhist literature, will be very familiar with the antidotes to various mental hindrances etc. No reference is made to the Eastern philosophies rather than a few nods to Western interpretations of Zen and a pretty useless joke of a Buddhist vacuum without attachments). From there, the author jumps to various kinds of fiction, allure of imaginative experiences like porn, effort etc. While these chapters tend to provide some interesting observations, it takes quite a painful effort to plod through the second half of the book.
In the end, a reader will still be searching for the sweet spot and will be not any wiser for knowing how to even find it. 3.5*