In Your Life, Has a Sweet Thing Become Bitter, by Excess?

“The sweetest things become the most bitter by excess.”


This line resonates with me, because one of my Secrets of Adulthood is “Every medicine can turn to poison.

For instance, for most people, sugar itself becomes bitter (figuratively) when consumed in excess. Also Facebook, discipline, caffeine, spending and saving, TV…and habits, of course.

Is  there any sweet thing in your life that has become bitter? Some medicine that has transformed to poison?

  • Jason H.

    For me at times it has been exercise. When I’m in a period of working really hard, and then miss for whatever reason, I feel really guilty The same drive that helps you be so dedicated, is also the one that makes you feel guilt when you get out of the routine.

    • Ginger Horton

      Yes, I’ve also seen people become addicted to exercise. Running is healthy. Running marathons compulsively, even when you’re in hospital every few years for a new knee surgery, probably not so healthy.

  • Cheryl Rieger

    I read this post, and then saw an article that explains the phenomenon from the point of view of cognitive science. Another score for ancient Greek philosophy and Democritus, first to offer a theory of atoms:

  • Jeanne

    This is so true of anything we do that grows into an addiction. In 12-steps the progression goes like this – from fun, to fun with problems, to nothing but problems.

  • Jade Spilka

    Sugar and junk food are less enjoyable when I have them in excess. Things are always sweeter when you have been away from them. I saw some friends this past weekend that I hadn’t seen in 4 months and that was so much sweeter because it had been so long. Excess can ruin things.

  • ATX Counseling

    This is going to sound completely crazy, but after reading so much about the benefits of meditation sometimes I go too far, hoping it will rescue from actual problems. I guess that’s what happens when we take to a solve in excess, we hope it will fix everything but – fortunately and unfortunately- that is up to us. I just wrote a blog post about this called “The Remote Control to your Happiness”. Check it out !

  • 丁為中

    Being aware of others’ reaction or emotional changes may be a good way interacting with people,but it may make you annoyed yourself sometimes.

  • Terry jane

    Gretchen, does reading ever become bitter to you?

    • gretchenrubin

      Hmmm…interesting question.

      When I was clerking at the Supreme Court, I was doing so much reading (difficult, demanding reading) for work that I couldn’t read for pleasure. That had never happened to me before, and hasn’t happened since.

  • Anna

    Chocolate and sugar – once sweet indulgences to me, have become bitter to me, due to the fact that they contribute to my getting terrible migraines. My heart still loves them, but my mind/body becomes physically ill after I consume them! I am in the process of changing my diet and eliminating them completely from my diet. I know I will be so much healthier without them, and that in itself will be sweet. 🙂