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Episode 49: No Cure for Being Human with Kate Bowler

podcast Nov 05, 2021

In this episode, Sharon is joined by bestselling author, Kate Bowler. At the age of 35, Kate was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Tired of relentlessly positive mantras and advice on how to live her “best life now,” Kate questioned how to grapple with her grim diagnosis in a culture that believes everything is fixable. Kate explains the idea of toxic positivity and why so many Americans practice it. As well, she shares the key to living a courageous life - and it has nothing to do with overcoming fear. In an episode that is sure to make you laugh and cry, join Sharon and Kate as they walk through the beauty, magic, heartbreak and hilariousness of the human experience.  

 Links to Full Episode:

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • Why Kate wrote “No Cure for Being Human” 
  • How Kate deals with her cancer diagnosis
  • How do we grapple with life’s hardships when our culture tells us to “live our best lives now?”
  • What is toxic positivity and when did it emerge? 
  • Why we are uncomfortable with reality 
  • Why life isn’t a problem we can solve 
  • Human finitude
  • How to live alongside fear instead of trying to overcome it 
  • How to find magic in the everyday 

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • Kate Bowler was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at the age of 35. After her diagnosis, she was bombarded with advice about living her best life now and keeping a positive mindset despite her grim diagnosis. In her newest book, “No Cure For Being Human,” Kate explains how she relearned to tell the truth about the human experience. Kate walks listeners through the emergence of toxic positivity in American culture, dating back to the 19th century during the rise of urbanization and class inequality. 
  • Sharon and Kate discuss the reasons why Americans think life is a problem they can solve. In a culture that believes everything is fixable and overcomeable, Kate found it hard to grapple with her insurmountable cancer diagnosis and the hardships that came with it. Kate points out that our love for self-help books and positive mantras fuels our relentless positivity to the point we believe we are invincible. Kate and Sharon also uncover the beauty of living in the past, present and future, instead of trying to live “presently” all the time.
  • Lastly, Sharon and Kate explore the magic of accepting the fear, uncertainty and finitude that make up the human experience. Kate points out that as humans, we always have a hunger for more, and she proposes that this hunger will never be satisfied, so we must learn to live with it. By accepting our insatiable hunger, our limitations and our fear, we are able to live courageously and joyfully step into a world of unknowns. Kate believes that this whirlwind of the good and the bad - the beautiful and the heart-breaking - allows us to be more aware of the magic that happens everyday. 

About the Guest:

Kate Bowler, PhD is a New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and a professor at Duke University who was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Her latest book, “No Cure For Being Human (and Other Truths I Need to Hear),” grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with limitations in a culture that promises anything is possible.

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