The saying, “Life is just a bowl of cherries”, comes from an old song and is meant ironically; to hint that the reverse is often true. We all experience the light and shade of life, the highs, and lows, like a musical melody, or the changing colours of the seasons. Sometimes we experience pleasure, elation, and happiness when everything goes our way, and at other times life seems to push back against our hopes and expectations, leading to frustration and difficulties.
Most children in western culture are told fairy tales that introduce light and shade; that sometimes there are problems that need to be solved; that there are pleasant as well as unpleasant people and situations, so we need to build resilience.
Deep within our body and brain, we bias our experience of sensations, situations, and people into either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling tones. Moving your hand towards a fire on a cold day is a pleasant feeling tone and moving it too close becomes unpleasant. Feeling tone arises before we experience emotions and thoughts and goes all the way back to early evolution. Even single-celled organisms will move towards pleasant things like food and away from unpleasant things like heat. So, it’s no surprise that we tend to be drawn toward pleasant experiences and push away unpleasant ones.