I hear ya, dear bro! Sometimes I wonder if this negativity you mention isn't what causes so many Orthodox to drift away; eventually losing interest in religion altogether. I grew up in a different religion which had myriads of totally absurd rules and regulations and there came a time when I sensed the same spirit in Orthodoxy and I became ANGRY.
A cure for that attitude is to read about St. Seraphim of Sarov or Elder Porphyrios. They were full of joy and insisted that our experience of the faith should be joyful, but not frivilous.
Part of the problem is that many people can read today...seriously and they read whatever they want whenever they want, a book for spiritual beginners today, a discourse in spiritual quantum physics tommorrow, and a piece of dry toast theologizing the day after, and they try to take it all in and apply what they think they understand until the mismanaged stricture of it all either causes them to seriously reevaluate their path and get so council...or they go nuts with it making themselves and all around them miserable. They act like those whose read a few health clinic tracts plus Grey's Anatomy who decides they are competant to be their own physicians and then wonder at the stinking sore they make of their life. Gosh...there's no joy in this, maybe Orthodoxy has got it wrong somehow?
Most of the deeper spiritual works out there were written by monks for monks and the counsel and instruction in them cannot be applied to those living in the world in equal measure. The trick is...if it may be called a trick is to try and extract the core principles of the tougher spiritual instruction and apply them in a meausured way that stretches you, just a little, but does not strain. Ten year olds might can muddle out a weight training regimine from an illustrated sports text but that doesn't equip them to step into the gym and start benching 300 lbs. They can get themselves seriously hurt to even try. But with counsel, a coach they can be started on 5lbs. weights and work up to the really big stuff by the time they are 18.
I think we are often attracted to Orthodoxy's disciplined approach to spiritual life but we try to engage that discipline all out of proportion to what we are capable of undertaking. Even worse, we forget that our neighbor might not be capable of something that we are and so the burdens we find challenging and envigorating to take on we try to press on our neighbor who is not suited to them and for whom they are a crushing weight which only produces confusion and despair if not corrected.
With respect to the more vigourous spiritual disciplines that can be found in Orthodoxy Elder Sophrony offered some sound advice I think, if I may paraphrase. He said something to the effect of keep your mind on the brink of hell as long as you can stand it, then step back and have a cup of tea.
All the rules in Orthodoxy have pastoral ends just like different physical therapies have health of body as their end. Therapies are chosen to correct specific weaknesses and there is no one size fits all. So it is with spiritual disciplines, the ones that fit the need of the person are the ones that need to be applied. The man who struggles with sensuality doesn't get much help from spiritual counsel designed to root out avarice. That's why we need to not to lone ranger our spiritual life and spiritual reading but keep tabs with our priest or spiritual father/mother if we have one so that questions and difficulties can be dealt with early on, before they suck all the joy out of one's faith.
For example, I remember when I first became Orthodox I tried to keep the Lenten fasting rules very stictly as did a friend of mine...and it was hard on us both, but we were glad we did it. The next year it was even harder in some ways, and when we failed at times it made us feel bad, but even so we were glad we made it. Third year it seemed harder still and both of us crumbled in various ways and just did the best we could when we could, and were glad we finally made it through. The fourth year we realized only the grace of God helps us complete any fast, and whether we did well by the rules or not we were glad in those times we could discern God's grace helping us, and when we failed we did not despair, but turned to God in humility acknowledging our weakness and started again.
So nowadays when I talk to new converts I mention the value of giving that first year the old college try knowing that for most it will be more than they can do or nearly so. And when the fretting starts at the beginning of the next lent and the difficulties become very hard to bear and they get a good look at their own weakness, I find that makes for good teachable moments about the dangers of eager beaver zealousness as opposed to purposeful spiritual life, that grows from where its at. My priest, however is wiser and more pastoral in his approach. He prefers catechumens and first year Orthodox acclimate themselves by trying to build up to the full keeping of the fast a little at a time over the course of two or three years. First year, just go down to fish, second year oil and wine, third year...then you can try full fast to the degree you can bear it...just keep him in the loop as to progress and difficulties.
On the flip side we must be mindful in our world and culture we are used to having our cake and eating it too, and get frustrated when our cake is taken away or even mildly disparaged. If we come to Orthodoxy we must come having counted to cost. It is not Christian Saunas and Full Body Massage incorporated, it is a call to do battle with our passions, to root out our vices and to keep the garden patch of virtue weeded. It is a call to the cross not the country club. And if our heart takes no joy in the cross, then we need to seriously examine our hearts and why we want to be Orthodox.