Susan Cain’s Rainforest Mind — A Book Review of Sorts

Have you heard of Susan Cain and her new book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole? Her tagline on social media says she is writing for “kindred spirits who prefer quiet to loud, depth to superficiality, sensitivity to cool.” She writes: “Do you love beauty and excellence?” Sound familiar?

(my favorite cafe and happy place)

Like Cain’s kindred spirits, the rainforest-minded are highly sensitive, deep thinkers, creative, curious, and striving for excellence. Why the rainforest? Well, like the rainforest, they are complex, resourceful, resilient, intense, and potentially providing “oxygen” to others with their intellectual, emotional, creative, intuitive, and spiritual contributions. Like the rainforest, they are often misunderstood and not able to flourish as themselves. She is writing about us!

You may know of Cain from her earlier book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She is still speaking to introverts in this book, but you rainforest-minded extroverts will definitely be able to relate as well. In Part One of Bittersweet, she asks the question: “How can we transform pain into creativity, transcendence, and love?” Surely that is a question every rainforester ponders! Ms. Cain certainly is a member of our crew.

Personally, I relate to her subtitle: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. Maybe you do, too. You may have been labelled too sensitive, too dramatic, and too emotional. You likely feel despair because of the suffering on the planet, the politics, and the climate crisis. Odds are, you long to live in a more compassionate world. Sorrow. Longing. There aren’t many places where these traits are understood and celebrated (besides here, of course). But Susan Cain tells you, “how sorrow and longing make us whole.” I love that!

I have nothing against perky people, mind you. We need all types on this planet. But those of us who cry easily, who notice the layers of nuance, who tend toward the melancholy, who are always diving beneath the surface, and who are driven to create, need to recognize the beauty in that. The beauty in us. Need to embrace our “bittersweet.” And, oh my goodness! How can you not love a person who writes about “ways to transcend the tyranny of positivity” and reminds you “to embrace your full emotional life: sorrows, longings, and all.”

The book has been described as a “mix of research, storytelling, and memoir.” All these aspects are rich with Cain’s rainforest intellect and heart. I so appreciate her vulnerability and personal reflections. She writes, “How do we get to the point of seeing our sorrows and longings not as indications of secret unworthiness but as features of humanity? How do we come to realize that embracing our inner loser as well as winner–the bitter and the sweet–is the key to transcending them both, the key to meaning, creativity, and joy?”

There are so many parts of the book I would like to tell you about. But I can’t. I’m too overwhelmed with the sweet! You will just have to read it. Trust me.

And, yes, I know. There are already seventeen books piled not so neatly by your favorite easy chair or on your bedside table. I’m sorry. You will just have to add this one. (Apologies for being so pushy!) And when my next book/guided journal is released in a few weeks, well, that one, too.

I guarantee, you will find beauty, excellence, and maybe even transcendence in both!


To my bloggEEs: Have you read Bittersweet? Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And get ready for the launch of my new book, coming in a few weeks barring any glitchy events! Thank you, as always, for being here and for your love. It means so much.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

3 responses to “Susan Cain’s Rainforest Mind — A Book Review of Sorts”

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  1. Are You Too Much or Are You Just A Lot? Navigating the "Too Muchness" of Your Gifted Mind – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] exist! They buy my books. They follow me on Instagram. They dance the Argentine tango. They follow Susan Cain. Don’t give up on finding one or a […]

  2. Clignett Avatar

    Oh, Paula, thus book sounds like such a joy, such a home-coming! I’ll just need to add it to my wishlist.. With another 20 something books.. while my bookcases are still full of books I want to read, and another few boxes still in my basement that I haven’t come round to unpack yet (because my bookcases are full and I’m still trying to unclutter everything that I found with the move to the new apartment 🙈🫣).. and a stack of books that I just pushed into a cubbard..
    So, I’m up to 4 books that I really want even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t even look for books anymore. First is yours, of course! Then this one, another one in Dutch that has been written by Tessa van Rossum called “De Onderstroom” (The Undercurrent”), which is written as a novel, with helpful techniques and examples of life situations. I’m just such a fan of hers, she is so sweet and lovely! She’s helped me a lot with the trauma and burnout, and with her being gifted in such great ways, it was (is) easy to talk to her because she sees it, she knows it. Not cheap, as no insurance coverage, but so worth it! 💓
    Then the final one is a book from the Dalai Lama, on how to get your mind quiet, how to accept that it can be a struggle, but with acceptance and kindness to oneself, you can get your mind to quiet/silence. I’ve read an excerpt of this book, and I was sorry I couldn’t read more 😅!
    And it’s only June! And I promised myself! 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

    1. pprober Avatar

      Of course, there are lots of books on your list, Clignett. Glad you’re adding this one and mine. It will be worth it!

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