Discovering what life is about

the acceptance of negative experience is a positive experience

What maybe wrong with all of the “How to Be Happy” books


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.

Alan Watts

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.

  • - The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make.
  • - The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance.
  • - The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you.
  • - The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become in trying to get there.



It feels like the more I walked toward a house, the farther away the house got from me.


As the existential philosopher Albert Camus said :

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

Albert Camus


What’s interesting about the backwards law is that it’s called “backwards” for a reason:

If pursuing the positive is a negative, then pursuing the negative generates the positive.


  • - The pain you pursue in the gym results in better all-around health and energy.
  • - The failures in business are what lead to a better understanding of what’s necessary to be successful.
  • - Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others.
  • - The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships.
  • - Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance



Seriously, I could keep going, but you get the point. Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.

Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires.



  • - The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering.
  • - The avoidance of struggle is a struggle.
  • - The denial of failure is a failure.
  • - Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.




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the acceptance of negative experience is a positive experience



the acceptance of negative experience is a positive experience



the acceptance of negative experience is a positive experience

Categories : Life purpose    Themes : Wisdom
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