We need to experience it to believe it, to feel it, to be alive. That not only includes what we would label "positive" or "enjoyable" experiences, but also what we call "negative" or "painful" experiences. As English poet John Keats wrote, "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced."
I can't truly know poverty from reading accounts of what it means not to know where my next meal comes from. I can't truly know unconditional love until I have had children that I fiercely want to protect from all the painful things that could possibly happen to them. I can't truly know passion and joy from reading a book or poem.
Humanity in its entirety is living this quandary in real time as we observe climate change. There are many who don't believe that this is actually happening, or who'd maybe rather stick their head in the sand, even though scientists have predicted it for several decades, and now have unfailing supporting statistics. We don't necessarily want to trust theoretical expert advice and scientific projection. It seems that we must feel the heat and the weather disasters and the droughts and species reductions before we are willing to act and say "that is something I don't want, now that I have experienced it myself." Chef Dan Barber expressed this in a documentary I recently watched about his difficult beginnings. His take on adversity in life is that it teaches us where we don't want to go back to; and by default it teaches us what we want instead.
Take any recent experience and reflect back on it. Did it show you something that you would want to experience again? Did it show you something that you would never want to experience again? Did it teach you something that you want by showing you its opposite?