Do we have to accept negative aspects in life?
There are a lot of negative aspects that exist and most of us succumb to the idea that they are simply part of the natural world. How else could we possibly deal with illness, mishaps, pain, suffering and dying? We believe it’s something we have to accept because it has always been like this and will always remain part of life. We have no choice. Not only is negativity accepted, but often also reinforced with a variety of explanations.
Another popular line of thought is the notion of necessary opposites. It is commonly believed that opposite qualities of conditions have to exist in order for them to exist. For example: Hot and cold, black and white, soft and hard and so forth. To some, the existence of such opposite qualities explains why we have to accept negative events, including illness, pain and suffering also. We need them in order to experience the positive effects. We only know what love is, because we know that hate exists too. We appreciate being held and touched tenderly because we know that harshness and brutality also exists. Once more the conclusion resulting from this path of thought is that negativity is an essential part of life. But is it really so? Do we really have to experience unpleasant events (negativity) in order to experience pleasant outcomes? Perhaps it is sufficient to know that they exist, without necessarily having to experience these.
What do children tell us about it? Children usually hardly experience any negativity as they are tenderly looked after and cared for by their parents and yet they experience pleasure and joy. Children are also psychologically healthy until they have negative experiences. They learn that they could be harmed by strangers and some of them do. They get bullied at school or taken advantage of by older siblings. They get ill, injured and experience emotional hurt for all kinds of reasons commonly directly or indirectly through others.
However, whatever the negative experiences entails, it is something that could have been potentially avoided. Our parents’ constant aim is to prevent harm from happening to us by taking every possible measure to ensure that we remain safe. Not counting innate and harmless feelings, like being afraid in the dark, hungry or feeling bored at times when nobody is around to play. These are situations that can relatively easy be dealt with. The child is fed and not left in the dark. Boredom probably doesn’t even quality as negative aspect as the consequences are not really detrimental or harmful. Thus far it seems that negativity could be avoided and doesn’t represent a necessity, at least not at a young age.
Animals with no natural enemies come to mind also. Lions, eagles, sharks don’t have to experience a plethora of negativity in order to live their lives. Perhaps some animals even exist, that don’t experience stress of any kind, as they have no natural enemies, no danger they are exposed to, food in abundance and no territorial battles to fight. Surely, an animal’s live overall is by far less complex than that of a human. Nevertheless, this applies to psychological and social experiences only, as most biologically higher ordered animals can just like humans be subject to pain and suffering also. In order to avoid any redundant discussions on differences between humans and animals, there is little doubt that animals and humans alike are all trying to avoid pre-conceivable negativity of any kind.
Back to the human realm: Let’s face it. All of us want to experience pre-dominantly pleasant moments. If we put up with inconvenience, discomfort or temporary pain via sport, hard work, study or other activities, it is only because we want to eventually reach a higher goal, some form of positively felt state.