Try free for 7 days.

Mindfulness.com
Meditation
See all Meditation

Browse

Top articles

How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners

10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation

What is Meditation?

Mindful LivingSleep
Community

Already have an account?

Sign in

00:00

00:00

The Backwards Law

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about the backwards law. So the backwards law is a term that was coined by philosopher, Alan Watts that pertains to the fact that when it comes to many of the most important things in life, happiness, inner peace feelings of satisfaction with your life, the best way to actually move closer to them is often to let go of striving so hard to have them all the time. Allan states that the more fervently you pursue, for instance, the feeling of being happy all the time or this idea that we should be happy all the time, often the less satisfied you become, the more you feel like things are not going okay in the moment. And, I mean, let's face it, many of us do live with this idea that we should always be happy and at peace.

Right? It's this kind of like this idea in the back of our head, but this is not really the nature of human life. And if we can accept that simple truth, we discover a greater sense of inner peace and ironically with our lives just as they are. In many ways, the backwards law really gets to the heart of what creates much of our restlessness, stress, and mental struggles and our discontent in life are all about. Because we often have this really strong desire to control things in a way where all of our problems and pains go away and we cling to the idea that we should always be happy. And we never really pause to think, is that even possible? Is that even what we really want? I mean, reflexively, you might think yes, of course that's what I want.

But when we lose someone really close to us, would we want to be happy in that moment? If we had no sadness, would we even be able to appreciate what it means to be happy? If we didn't have times of suffering and challenge, would we be able to grow as people? The truth is that to live a full human life, we need to experience the full spectrum of human emotion throughout the journey of our life. When we let go of striving so hard to control things, pushing away pain and clinging to happiness, all of a sudden what also emerges is a deep sense of inner peace and fulfillment that exists beyond or beneath that sort of everyday happiness. It's that peace and fulfillment that's not dependent on external events, that's there when we're happy and it's also there when we're sad. In this way, we carry with us a peace of mind that's at ease with all of the different feelings, at ease with all of the different circumstances that arise in our lives. So rather than striving so hard towards feeling happy or thinking something's wrong if happiness is not there, instead of aiming to be present with and accepting how things are right now.

And finding that sense of okayness with life, no matter how it appears in any given moment. As always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And now let's settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

The Backwards Law

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about the backwards law. So the backwards law is a term that was coined by philosopher, Alan Watts that pertains to the fact that when it comes to many of the most important things in life, happiness, inner peace feelings of satisfaction with your life, the best way to actually move closer to them is often to let go of striving so hard to have them all the time. Allan states that the more fervently you pursue, for instance, the feeling of being happy all the time or this idea that we should be happy all the time, often the less satisfied you become, the more you feel like things are not going okay in the moment. And, I mean, let's face it, many of us do live with this idea that we should always be happy and at peace.

Right? It's this kind of like this idea in the back of our head, but this is not really the nature of human life. And if we can accept that simple truth, we discover a greater sense of inner peace and ironically with our lives just as they are. In many ways, the backwards law really gets to the heart of what creates much of our restlessness, stress, and mental struggles and our discontent in life are all about. Because we often have this really strong desire to control things in a way where all of our problems and pains go away and we cling to the idea that we should always be happy. And we never really pause to think, is that even possible? Is that even what we really want? I mean, reflexively, you might think yes, of course that's what I want.

But when we lose someone really close to us, would we want to be happy in that moment? If we had no sadness, would we even be able to appreciate what it means to be happy? If we didn't have times of suffering and challenge, would we be able to grow as people? The truth is that to live a full human life, we need to experience the full spectrum of human emotion throughout the journey of our life. When we let go of striving so hard to control things, pushing away pain and clinging to happiness, all of a sudden what also emerges is a deep sense of inner peace and fulfillment that exists beyond or beneath that sort of everyday happiness. It's that peace and fulfillment that's not dependent on external events, that's there when we're happy and it's also there when we're sad. In this way, we carry with us a peace of mind that's at ease with all of the different feelings, at ease with all of the different circumstances that arise in our lives. So rather than striving so hard towards feeling happy or thinking something's wrong if happiness is not there, instead of aiming to be present with and accepting how things are right now.

And finding that sense of okayness with life, no matter how it appears in any given moment. As always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And now let's settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

Duration

Play in-app

Scan the following QR code with your camera app to open it on our mobile app

Get Unlimited Access

Start your mindfulness journey today.

A Mindfulness Plus+ subscription gives you unlimited access to a world of premium mindfulness content.

  • Over 1,800 meditations, sleep, calm music, naturescapes and more
  • Daily mindfulness video meditations 365 days a year
  • 100s of courses and tools to help manage anxiety, sleep and stress

Email Missing

We couldn’t detect your email with the SSO provider you have selected.
or

Mindfulness Guarantee

We are here to make a positive impact on the world. We never want to sell you something that hasn’t helped you live a better life. That’s why if you’re unhappy with any purchase from us, you have 30 days to get a full refund and your money back.

If you subscribed to Mindfulness Plus+ and are unhappy with your purchase, please get in contact with us within the 30-day period and we’ll refund your purchase.


Learn more about our Mindfulness Guarantee.

Mindfulness

Bring balance into your everyday life.

We believe in a world where everybody has access to the life-changing skills of mindfulness.

  • 2,000+ Guided Meditations
  • Daily Coaching
  • Sleep Content
  • Mindful Exercises
  • Mindful Radio
  • 10+ Courses from world-class teachers

Private Browsing

Added to your cart!

Checkout

Thank you for joining us

Congratulations on your subscription! Dive into the full library and enjoy all it has to offer.

Claim your free access

Create a mindfulness account and we’ll unlock this premium session in your account forever.

or continue with
By continuing, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

Do you already have an account?

Start a free trial to play this session

7-Days free trial, cancel anytime.

Finish personalizing your account

Complete a few quick questions to make your own personalized mindfulness plan.

Sign up or login to your mindfulness account to proceed.

or continue with
By continuing, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

Do you already have an account?

Mindfulness

One membership to gain access to a world of premium mindfulness content created to help you live happier and stress less.

  • 2000+ Guided Meditations
  • Courses from world-class teachers
  • Resources for Stress + Anxiety
  • Breathing exercises, gratitude practices, relaxation techniques
  • Sleep meditations, playlists, stories
  • Mindful talks, podcasts, music, nature sounds