“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.” – Mark Manson
This is one of my favourite quotes from the fantastic book, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***’.
It couldn’t ring more true of the situation billions of people in the world are finding themselves in today.
We are always seeking comfort, trying everything to avoid discomfort, chasing what we think is the easiest path to ‘happiness’, wishing we had more, wishing we were skinnier, had what they had, were Insta famous, looked like that girl, had that guys chest, owned a BMW X5, could clean and jerk heavier etc etc etfkncetera
The act of seeking positive experiences and trying to get there without accepting the pain and struggle that comes with it is impossible.
“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.”
Think about this now in relation to yourself. What is that positive outcome you desire so much and what negativity is it putting you through when you mull over it…
“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.”
How do we deal with these crazy feelings?
This ‘backwards law’ is something I have thought about a lot ever since reading Mark Manson’s book back in June and really taken it onboard.
He is not saying that we should never desire to seek a positive outcome. We just need to do a couple of things first:
1/ Realign our goals and desires with shit that is actually important, meaningful and will give us true happiness.
But more importantly…
2/ Accept that in order to achieve the positive outcome… we will struggle, we will be uncomfortable, we will fail, we will have to problem solve, we will have to form good habits… FOREVER.
The struggles will never end. We will achieve some success, feel great and happy and lovely, and then another struggle will come, we will overcome it, feel elation again, next challenge… and so on.
The sooner you can embrace this unavoidable fact of life, the happier you will already begin to be.
“Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is ‘solving.’ If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable. If you feel like you have problems that you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable. The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.”
I love it.
Take overweight/obesity for example. This is a problem, a problem you can solve. If you feel like this is a problem you can’t solve, or you are avoiding trying to solve it, or you are searching for the quickest fix to avoid the negative discomfort (eg. time, energy, being out of breath) while attempting solving it, you’re going to make yourself miserable.
Conversely, if you decide to solve the problem, take all the discomfort and challenges and struggles along the way, and eventually succeed… Not only will you feel fantastic for the achievement, but even better, you will have found even more happiness and fulfilment in the actual solving of the obesity problem. The journey you took to get there, the sweat, the new achievements, the high fives, the new friends, the grind of a workout, the growing self esteem, the feeling every time a dress size dropped, the cheering from your gym buddies when you finished something you didn’t think you could do, the new found love for healthy foods and how they make you feel on the inside, the stairs you can now conquer without losing breathe, the race you had with your daughter at the park, the ability to now encourage and empower others. You’re a f***ing superhero!
So where do we start?
Accept your failures, your weaknesses, your insecurities. Let yourself be vulnerable, it’s bloody liberating. Accept ones negative experience will in fact be a positive one.
“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.”
This concept even crossed my mind yesterday morning during the 1RM Clean & Jerk session…
I had a few members yanking just slightly from the floor or shifting their position just a little during the heavy deadlift phase (1st pull) of the clean. What was happening was their body did not like the discomfort they were feeling in their quads when initiating the movement. It feels heavy! So in order to avoid discomfort, they would either yank the bar (spreading the load between the legs, back, shoulders and arms) or lift their hips early (shifting the load away from their quads).
What happens is they end up not loading their legs up correctly, they can’t feel the weight of the bar in the right spot, when they get to the second pull (the jump) they feel far too much weight in their arms and the bar now feels way too heavy to lift, they cannot recruit enough power to move the bar, they’re out of position, they fail the lift.
If we continue to avoid the discomfort in our quads during the 1st pull, we will not be able to lift more efficiently. If we accept that the first pull is going to feel heavy, slow and uncomfortable and we work harder to maintain the correct position, we are more likely to reach the positive outcome.
If you have been seeking the positive only to constantly receive negative outcomes. Get in touch with us.
1/ We are running FREE TRIAL classes every Monday night. Don’t delay, get in now and we will guide you through your problem solving journey. We guarantee the very best gym experience. Head to and book in now! If you strictly can’t make Monday’s, let us know 🙂
2/ We created a FREE ONLINE 101 COURSE. A set of short-course modules on topics including nutrition, mindset, recovery, weightlifting and CrossFit.
PLUS! Our complete full comprehensive A-Z online NUTRITION course is now live and available to non-CrossFit Cranbourne box members. For only $12 a month (cancel anytime) we give you ALL the tools and ALL the support to nail your nutrition once and for all! If you aren’t addressing your diet you won’t get results. SIGN UP NOW! Click this link.
To sign up to the Free 101 course, hit this and fill in your deets. Then click the ‘101’ course. This course is available to EVERYONE!
3/ Contact me on my personal phone number: 0400518009
4/ Email us at
5/ Message us on Facey, just search CrossFit Cranbourne.
6/ Or message us on Insta, same deal. Or message me on my personal Insta @stuart_cunningham27.
We also have a tonne of useful content you can watch and read. Our Facebook video’s, YouTube account and Website is chock full off FREE INFO that can get you started on your journey before even entering our doors.
PS –
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is a must read for anyone that:
1/ cares way too much (actually, at all) about what people may think of them.
2/ is often searching for the short road to success, whether that be business, weight loss, a girlfriend, anything.
3/ find themselves hopping from one thing to the next and never actually achieving any of them.
4/ feels things are too hard.
5/ feels “meh” regularly.
6/ is a little lost.
7/ doesn’t have the above issues but is open to improve themselves.