There’s an old joke about how some people are so stupid they would bang on their hand with a hammer just so they could enjoy how good it feels to stop. While none of us can imagine why anyone would voluntarily hurt themselves just so they could enjoy it when they stop, the “joke” does illustrate the process of experiencing a negative event and then having a deeper appreciation for the positive event that immediately follows. That’s the topic of this entry: the necessity of experiencing some “bad” things so that you can more deeply appreciate the “good” things… and how eventually you can learn to appreciate the “bad” things… and then they’re not so bad anymore.

Dean Koontz, a New York Bestselling author, once wrote that to appreciate the beauty of the world, there had to be ugliness. After all, if everything was beautiful, then nothing would ever be seen that way. If everything was beautiful, then it would all just be common, average, every day… And then there would be no beauty. So the darker side… the seamier side… the ugly side… it’s necessary. It’s required if there’s to be any type of beauty at all.

Pain… ugliness… sometimes these types of visions or experiences are referred as “darker.” Evil is also referred to as “darker.” Which movie was it that made the line famous: “Come to the dark side!” When you think about it, Star Wars movies would be utterly useless and lacking in any type of entertainment if there was no “dark side.” In fact, one of the best parts of that entire franchise is how the dark side is so carefully interwoven into…  the good side. I never realized it before, but while they constantly refer to the dark side, they never really refer to the Jedi as “the light.”

So, he we are. Life all around us is full of challenges, obstacles, potentially negative influences, ugliness… the dark side. Those are all things we typically don’t have much appreciation for and generally complain about. But let’s think about this for a few minutes…

Challenges offer us opportunities. Sure, they might seem negative or hurtful; they might seem to be slowing us down. They might SEEM like they’re part of the dark side, but are they? Without challenges we’d never grow; we’d never experience the satisfaction of overcoming what might otherwise defeat us. Without the challenges we can never experience the joy of accomplishment. So are challenges really a part of the dark side? Or are they simply part of the path to the light?

Are obstacles bad? I don’t think so. I was once taught – and passed onto my children – “over, under or around.” Experiencing obstacles, much like challenges, helps you to learn and grow. Experiencing obstacles offers you the learning moment: how to get around that obstacle. Over, under or around. Sometimes, as my family has learned through the years… sometimes you just blow the damned obstacle up and keep driving on.  Still, no matter how you defeat the obstacle, is it part of the dark side? Or is it one more step on a path of travel that leads to a better, wiser, more experienced you?

So, if each of these “negative” things are actually just pieces of your path to success, to accomplishment, to improvement, etc. – if each of them is HELPING you, then are they negative? Are they part of the dark side? Are they slowing you down?

They MAY be slowing you down but I can’t say they are negative, dark, etc. They are necessary and of value for what they offer you: opportunities to become better; to grow; to improve; to filter your knowledge with experience and produce a greater level of wisdom.

And when you think of it that way, “darkness” is an absolute mandatory part of your life that you should appreciate every bit as much as, if not more than, the “good” stuff. Without the darkness, you couldn’t climb steadily toward the light. So the next time you’re sitting around thinking about something you don’t like; something “bad” in your day… stop feeling sorry for yourself just long enough to look at the “bad” thing and see if it isn’t actually just the next step on your path to being a better you.


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