The Science of Bitterness

Gnarled Tree Roots

I’d never be so bold as to call myself an expert on something, but I think I’ve at least earned a certificate when it comes to bitterness. I’ve discovered that there’s actually a science behind why bitterness is so easy and addicting. First of all, it’s important to understand what bitterness actually is. Bitterness (in reference to flavor) comes from chemicals with a high PH level. As a result, the bitter taste stays in our mouths longer than other flavors. In the same way, the emotion of bitterness stays with us longer than the sweeter and more enjoyable emotions of life. This is why bitterness is so dangerous.

Unfortunately, just like people adjust to bitter flavors the more they’re exposed to them, we build up a familiarity and almost a desire for bitterness. In cooking, we use bitter flavors to bring out other flavors. The bitter flavors aren’t even noticed amongst the other flavors they enhance. Does this mean we need bitterness to enjoy the good things in our lives? Does being miserable at times elevate the level of happiness we can experience at other times? No. You are perfectly capable of enjoying life without wallowing in self-pity. You can be strong enough to see the good in things without having to contrast them to the bad things that have happened to you.

I’m not saying you have to strive to achieve a level of absolute nirvana for the remainder of your days, but don’t let yourself get caught up in a trap of bitterness and lie to yourself that you’re only being strategic to have a better tomorrow. Believe me; your attitude is just ruining everyone else’s today.

The harsh truth is that the inability to appreciate the sweet flavors of life without bitterness is only a result of selfishness. It speaks to our own deficiency of character that we must add bitterness to better experience the good moments of life. We’re a product of our own conditioning, not reality. To be bitter is to choose to be the victim in your story when you were called and capable of being the hero. If you’re unable to live out the purpose you thought you had, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a purpose. It means your purpose is something else. Stop wasting time feeling sorry for yourself and find it.

Easier said then done, right? One key thing to keep in mind is that sometimes we mistake losses for failure. We can become bitter from a loss beyond our control and can’t resolve our emotions because we’re blaming ourselves for something we didn’t even do. Whether your bitterness comes from outside sources or bad choices that you’ve made, you can’t move on until you grieve. Grief comes in stages and often people cycle through the stages many times. You can find your happiness, but it takes work. It’s comparable to weight loss. You don’t get instant results, it’s a lifestyle change – not intermittent healthy choices, it helps to get support from others but ultimately the responsibility is on you, people will eventually recognize the changes in you and you’re always at risk of putting the “weight” back on.

Don’t get mad that some people have it easier than you. It’s lucky for them and not life-ending for you. Face the fact that you have to work harder than them and get over it. Push forward. Take what once was bitterness and make something beautiful.


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