Contrast – How The Negative Can Fuel Success

June 15, 2016

06 / 15 / 2016

Contrast is necessary to teach the value of what we don’t want while honing in on what we do. That is why the negative of pain is a necessary driver to fuel success.  
Contrast can be a polarizing experience.  When contrast comes from purple irises sitting in a vase beside orange poppies, contrast is beautiful.

When it comes in the form of pain, however, it is significantly more difficult to accept, and yet, contrast is what is needed in order to nourish growth and success.

Purple irises look better in the vase, when placed with orange poppies, because, as a result of conventional colour theory, colours that lie opposite to one another on the colour wheel, or complementary colours, are more pleasing together.  That enhanced visual experience is the result of science – photoreceptor cells in your eyes that help us see colour and perceive different colours of light in sharper ways.

Similarly, we often need the distinctly opposite experience of challenge and pain to fully experience joy.  Just knowing what we do not want, sometimes only learned through painful experiences like becoming ill or losing a loved one, helps clarify what we do want.  

If we were in a permanent state of happiness, we would soon lose the ability to feel it, as the brain is hard-wired for survival.  Evolution has taught us to be alert and prepared to flee in the face of danger.  Fear and danger teach us to be wary of busy intersections, bears in the wilderness, hot stoves, lightning strikes and gun-wielding criminals.   But we can’t stay in a permanent state of happiness, or fear for that matter, because we would ultimately lose the ability to experience either.

The key is to identify the challenge at hand, name it and move past “problem, problem, problem to solution, solution, solution.” Staying stuck in problem mode only drives you deeper into difficulties, like when your car gets stuck in the mud and you spin your wheels but get nowhere.  When we slow down and think of how to solve the problem, like digging away some of the mud, or reversing, we can become unstuck.

Think of when you have had a difficult time, and have been feeling low, how much sweeter it feels after you come out of it. You have experienced the dark and the light. The sad and the happy. Since you have come out of it, you feel so much better and you gain an appreciation for the good in life.

I began to look back on the powerful books that have served me during the contrasting times in my life – the fat days, the brilliant happy days, the bad dark days and this is the set I have come up with.  Today I want to inspire you as I have so often done for myself.

This summer reading list might just do it for you too:

  • THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill
  • AWAKEN THE GIANT WITHIN  by Anthony Robbins
  • AS A MAN THINKETH by James Allen
  • DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF by Richard Carlson, Ph. D
  • DRIVE by Daniel H. Pink
  • THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING by Norman Vincent Peale


Happy reading.  Embrace the contrast!

Remember, I am always listening.


PS. Please tell me about your favourite book here, in the Comments section below.  How did you become inspired to live a healthier, fitter life?

Tosca Reno

Author, columnist, motivational speaker, reality TV star, radio personality, consultant, mother and wife, Tosca Reno has been inspiring millions with the Eat Clean™️ Diet series and sharing the success she's had with weight loss and Clean Eating.


  1. Brida by Paulo Coelho. I love the story about the dark night and having faith. It is faith that makes you invest in goals and your life and keeps you going although the odds are against you. It did for me anyway.

  2. Another excellent post Tosca!!When I go through painful times, my initial reaction is to crawl into bed and just shut down!
    I have recently gone through the toughest challenge of my life. Two books that I found incredibly helpful were Rising Strong by Brene Brown. On the cover it says “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.” The other book is The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. I am learning to take life one day at a time, holding my head up high. Learning and growing stronger every day.

  3. Hello my Sister in Wellness, Esther,
    So lovely to hear from you. I hear you. We have had our share! Bed does feel good and there are times, when your brain is overrun, that having a nap to stop the chaos, is actually a fantastic coping strategy. We just need to be sure to get out of it too!

    Thank you for your book recommendations. These seem like the perfect books to tuck into my suitcase when I go to the cottage this summer.

    Live well my friend,
    Warm hugs,

  4. A great book I read and had my staff read was “what to say when you talk to yourself”. It is a book about positive self talk. Instead of saying this is going to be a bad day start with what a great and cannot wait to see what I am going to learn or do. It has been a book that really helped me. We as a family read it too so we always remind each other about positive self talk.

  5. Hello Deb.
    Thank you for your feedback and book recommendation.

    Every little thing we can do to keep ourselves thinking positively, helps us feel more positive and when that happens the body responds with improved health.

    Have a grand day!

  6. Thank you for insight. I believe as well it is as important to realize what you don’t want to recognize what you really do want. Sometimes you only learn that because of the contrast that is thrown at you. Always learn and always adapt. It is nice to keep moving forward. The reading list is a good one. The shade of a tree, a good book and maybe add a glass of ice cold raspberry/mint water a perfect way to spend this beautiful summer day!

  7. Hi Linda!
    Agreed! Contrast is the word!


  8. I am a huge fan of Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. It is all about procrastination and how to overcome it. I even listen to the audio version when on the road travelling to see patients.

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