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Wisdom Quote: Desiring the Positive and Accepting the Negative

"The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

—Mark Manson

The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience:

This quote rings loud for me because there was a time when my mother complained that I'm not happy enough. She wanted me to be happier, but her demand for me to be happier made me stressed and prevented me from being happier. Her words communicated that I'm not happy, but oddly enough, before she said those words to me, I didn't feel unhappy. And because she was complaining about me not being happy, I caught her negative energy.

The point of the story though is not to say that we can't tell others to be happier. The point is, if you want others to do something, you need to lead by example. You can't tell others to be happy while you yourself are unhappy and using a complaining tone of voice.

Furthermore, if you're giving a complaint, complain about action not character. Don't say, "Why are you so negative." Instead say, "When you talk about negative news all the time, it makes me feel like you're oppressed by negativity, and I think you should try looking for positive news."

The acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience:

Indeed, stress comes from resistance to the way things are. The thing is, we really cannot change the outside circumstances, we can only change our internal attitude. When we simply accept things for the way they are, then we remove that resistance. It's like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. Then you naturally feel lighter and happier, and you'll have more energy to act.

For example, I cannot change the fact that my mom complained about me not being happy. Me going through that event again and again in my head, feeling like I'm being wrongfully treated and misunderstood, is resisting reality. It creates stress and weight for me. Once I stopped resisting it and accepted it for the way it is, then I stopped thinking about it.

The big question of course, is how do I stop resisting reality? Well, in this case, I reflected that if I were my mom, with her exact genes and experiences and personality, I would do exactly what she did. In other words, me saying, "She shouldn't have complained" or "that's unfair" is actually just my own story. That story does not match reality.

Another thing I did is reflect on my value for respect and humility. Accepting a true criticism is nothing special. It ought to be done. Accepting an untrue criticism is true humility. This event showed me I'm clearly not at that level yet, so I need to improve. I reflected on what I might have done to make her think I'm unhappy. While I may not have felt like I brought any negative energy to the room, I certainly don't bring lots of positive energy either. I realized I usually bring neutral energy. Once I accepted the negative event and reflected on it, it became a positive event for me.


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