Thirty seven minutes before I sat down to write this newsletter, I fell in love. I was waiting for my morning coffee when he strolled up to the cafe. He did not order a coffee because he was a puppy and puppies don’t order coffees. Their owners do. So while his owners drank their coffees, this puppy sat there quietly with his Wide Puppy Dog Grin. He was a Golden Retriever, you see, and Golden Retrievers always grin. Especially when they are puppies. I love puppy Golden Retrievers for their grins but also for their feet, which are often too big for the rest of them. Their walk isn’t a walk. It’s a plonk. And while they plonk their way across the pavement, they are usually too busy sniffing the ground, grinning, to look forward. As this is a newsletter about looking forward (or, more so, the power of not looking forward) this puppy story was not a pointless one, but my introduction. Which I knew I had as soon as I fell in love this morning.
It is very difficult to not look forward. Particularly now. We are living in the age of self-improvement, where more people are selling a 7 Step Guide To Finding Fulfillment In Your Life than there are people to buy them. Our search for fulfillment and betterment and happiness and success can often lead us down the opposite path. To discontent and disappointment. Because we are focussing on the lack of. There is a theory for this, and it is called The Backwards Law. It was coined by philosopher Alan Watts but is based on an Aldous Huxley theory, called The Law of Reversed Effort. So you can call it whatever you want. However, it essentially this: “The backwards law’ [is] 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.” This is how author Mark Manson described it in his book, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F***. “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.”
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