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"I don’t believe anything is by accident."

These were the gloves I “blindly” grabbed today… fitting for me and where I’m at with my life today. I am working. I’m working on me… my mind, my body, my family, my business… my whole life. 

I had a conversation the other day with my husband about feeling like I was in Chinese handcuffs at different moments in my life and how freeing (pun intended) it was when I realized that the struggle to free myself was actually what was keeping me in place… I’m the struggle. 

This quote below is what he sent me via text while I was in the middle of my Kickboxing class with studio members. I was in the midst of my own fight with my heart rate and my lungs, trying not to hit the fuck-it switch because of how actually hard it was getting to keep up at a pace thats typically “me”, but that was the me that wasn’t dealing with chemo drugs coursing through her system. I digress.

“This is a total mind-fuck. So I’ll give you a minute to unpretzel your brain and maybe read that again: Wanting positive experience is a negative experience; accepting negative experience is a positive experience. It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law”_ the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”

Have you ever felt like the more you chase something, the further away it seems to get? Like happiness, success, or love? It can be frustrating, and even demoralizing, when the things we want most in life seem to elude us no matter how hard we try to grasp them. But what if the secret to getting what we want is actually to stop chasing it?

This is the idea behind the backwards law, which states that the more we pursue something, the more elusive it becomes. Hence the It’s a paradoxical concept, but one that is backed up by both science and philosophy.

In his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” author Mark Manson explores this concept in depth. He writes, “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” In other words, the more we try to avoid negative experiences and seek out positive ones, the more unhappy and dissatisfied we become. On the other hand, when we accept and embrace the negative experiences in our lives, we are actually able to find peace and contentment.

This idea can be applied to many aspects of life. For example, if we are constantly striving to be wealthy and successful, we may never feel satisfied no matter how much money we make or how high we climb the corporate ladder. However, if we focus on doing work that is meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of the monetary rewards, we may find that we are happier and more content in the long run.

Similarly, if we are constantly seeking validation from others and trying to be seen as attractive or desirable, we may never feel truly confident in ourselves. But if we focus on building our own self-esteem and finding happiness within, we may find that we are more attractive and desirable to others as a result.

This idea can even be applied to spirituality. If we are constantly seeking enlightenment and trying to be seen as “spiritually advanced,” we may actually become more self-centered and shallow in our pursuit. But if we focus on cultivating compassion and empathy for others, we may find that we are more connected to the world around us and more at peace with ourselves.

The backwards law can be a difficult concept to grasp at first, but it is one that has the potential to change our lives in profound ways. By letting go of our attachment to positive experiences and embracing the negative ones, we may find that we are able to live more fulfilling and meaningful lives. So the next time you find yourself chasing after something you desperately want, take a step back and consider whether your pursuit is actually making you happier or more dissatisfied. The answer may surprise you.

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About the Author

Tina Fraley

Tina is the owner of Power House Studios, an author, speaker, certified personal trainer and a masters level community mental health counselor with over 20 years of experience in the mental health field.


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