Why Life Sucks Sometimes And The Power Of Contrast

by | May 16, 2022

Why Life Sucks Sometimes And The Power Of Contrast

Do you know why life sucks sometimes? Today we’ll cover why it seems life sucks and what to do when it does. If you’ve ever found yourself saying things like ‘my life sucks’ or ‘I hate life’, you’re not alone. Life is hard and life is difficult and many people struggle with life, but today we’re going to try to see things from a new perspective and change the way we think about life.

The Power Of Contrast And Why Life Sucks Sometimes

It’s a muggy day in the middle of August. You’re stuck in traffic on the I-15, running late for a job interview. You can literally hear your watch ticking the seconds away. Sweat begins to bead on your forehead as the A/C in your ‘98 Camry has taken a shit at the worst possible time. But turning back isn’t an option. You really need this job and have been anxiously preparing for this interview for the past two weeks.

You check the fuel gauge and whaddaya know, you’re running on fumes with 5 miles to go. You rehearse your lines and prepare for the meeting, anyway. Then it happens. You hear the flapping of rubber against the fender and you know: it’s all over. The right front Goodyear has shredded and left you for dead on the shoulder. You’re fucked. 

After an evening spent with tow truck drivers, mechanics, and gas station attendants, you regroup and head out the next morning to try again. Only this time, it’s smooth sailing on the freeway. The A/C’s ice cold, and you’re rolling on four fresh tires. You arrive for the interview 15 minutes early and with enough espresso in you to start the car should it break down again. The boss loves you and you, my friend, have the job. Sweet. 

This is the power of contrast.

The value you place on something can be derived by comparing it to its contrasting opposite. In other words, you can really only appreciate having things because you understand what it means not to have them. For instance, a hundred-dollar bill means a hell of a lot more to a homeless man than it does to a millionaire. A hot meal means more to a starving child in a third world country than it does to most middle-class Americans. And the dream job you just landed means more to you because you know what it’s like to sit on the side of the interstate, out of gas and out of hope.

So yes, the value of anything we have in our lives is determined by its relativity to something else. And sometimes that something else is nothing. That’s why it’s just as important to have rotten experiences as it is to have exceptional ones. To know both loss and gain. Without the comparison there is no value. You need to meet asshole bosses to appreciate the good ones. You need your car to break down to appreciate the new one you just bought. And you gotta kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince.

But the power of contrast is not only knowing what it’s like to have something versus having nothing. It’s also there to remind us that there are less desirable options available. Like, let’s say you’re hungry for dinner but can only choose from one of the following: a plate of pasta topped with veggies and parmesan cheese, a Tomahawk steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, or a plate of tofu squares followed by a power shake made of kale, spinach and other leafy greens. What are you having?

The meal you find most desirable from the choices above may differ from another reader’s. That’s because this world is teaming with diversity—which is a very good and dynamic thing. You might not agree with every other opinion or point of view that’s out there, but it’s what helps to give you the perspective you need to know what you do agree with. It forms your opinions. Because sometimes the only way to truly discover what you enjoy is to discover what you don’t. This is called preference. 

Esther Hicks, author of Ask and It Is Given writes, “The whole reason that contrast exists is that it gives you desires. Because, in having a desire, you have a reason to move in the direction of something. And it is the moving in the direction of something that is the living of life”. 

Contrast Gives Life Meaning

That’s why, even though it may seem contrary to your instinct, you need to start embracing the things you don’t like, points of view you don’t agree with, and times when shit goes wrong. “Embrace” them, anyway, with the appreciation of knowing that without them, life lacks purpose. Without the antagonist, there is no desire or drive for the protagonist. This is the balance of opposites. Yin and Yang. Salt-N-Pepa.

Opposites can also be used together to make things better. In the art world, contrasting elements like light and dark colors, smooth and rough textures, large and small shapes can be used together to create their own beauty.

“Beautiful light is born of a contrast to darkness.” —Ross Turnbull.  

Having no frame of reference or means by which to compare something would essentially make art—and life on this planet–meaningless. If everything was the same all of the time, with no choices or alternatives, no black and no white, it would be like having every corner of the world painted in the same dull and dead shade of gray. 

We as humans must have contrasting, and oftentimes conflicting, options available to us to make life worth living. Without winter, there is no summer. Without evil, there is no good. Without sadness, there is no happiness. 

Let’s start appreciating and respecting opposing views, differences of opinion, and the times when we get our asses kicked. Let’s be grateful for the things that we have, because someone, somewhere, is without them. Let’s value our preferences, but respect that there are others. 

And let us give thanks for the times we get stuck on the side of life’s winding road.

Don’t forget to grab my new book!


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