10 things not to pursue

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There are things that one should not actively pursue or put more effort on them because they are subject to the law of diminishing returns. This means that, the more one puts effort to pursue the lesser the returns or the lesser the rewards. This is “The Backwards Law” which has been explained in chapter one of Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Mark Manson explains that a good experience is itself a bad experience; accepting a bad experience is a good experience. This paradox exists in almost all aspects of life especially those related to health and relationships. While some activities just require rote repetition such as driving, cleaning and hence more effort equal more rewards. Reward and effort in complex activities do not respond to this linear association. For such activities the more you work or focus on them the lesser the rewards. This especially works for activities which intertwine emotions, intelligence and effort. Pursuit of rewards in such activities results in frustrations because they obey law of diminishing returns. These are some of such activities and pursuits you should not be actively pursue because the more you pursue them, the more elusive they become:

  1. Control – The more desperate one seeks for control of others or of self the more control becomes elusive. The more one puts effort to control their feelings, moods and impulses, the more powerless one becomes. Emotional life is usually unruly and ungovernable and the best effort towards controlling it to put less effort in attempting to control it. Likewise, controlling and influencing others is very difficult when one puts a lot of effort to do it.  Conversely, the more ones accept others and their weaknesses the easier it becomes to control and influence them.
  2. Purpose – The more one pursues deeper meaning or purpose to their lives, the more self-obsessed and superficial one becomes. The more one tries to find meaning and support the purpose of others’ lives, the purposeful one’s life becomes.
  3. Freedom – The relentless pursuit for more paradoxically leads to less freedom. It is only by limiting oneself that experiences more freedom. It is only by choosing a few things in life that one is truly capable of truly exercising freedom.
  4. Happiness – Attempts and efforts to be happier results in unhappiness. It is in accepting unhappiness that one can find true happiness.
  5. Security – Attempts to be more secure produces more anxiety and insecurity. It is in being contented with insecurity that one feels secure.
  6. Love – The harder we strive to influence and make others fall in love with us, the lesser the others accept and love us. In fact, the more we attempt to love others, the lesser we love ourselves. It is in loving oneself and accepting self that one finds love.
  7. Respect –  Respect should not be pursued.  The more one strives to be respected the lesser the respect shown. Conversely, the more one respect others without demanding respect, the more the others show respect.
  8. Trust – When one puts a lot of effort to gain trust, the less trust they gain from others. Instead the more one trust others, the more others incline to trust one.
  9. Confidence – The more one strives to be confident, the more one heightens insecurity and anxiety. On the contrary when one accepts anxiety, faults and fears, the more one becomes confident in their own skin.
  10. Change – The more one yearns for change, the more one feels that enough has not been done.  Whereas, the more one accepts self, the more one accepts stability, the more one grows and evolves.

These pursuits are less rewarding because they involve one’s mind. It is the mind that is responsible for pursuing happiness and it also the mind which is recipient of that happiness. The more effort the lesser the effect that is perceived by the mind.



Published by Samuel Ng'ang'a Mwangi

One day I had too much to tell but there was no one to tell the story. I had to write articles, print them and then give them out to anyone who cared to read. Author of "So You Want To Get Into Courtship?" A Guide To Purposeful Christian Courtship. I write and rewrite on my blog www.mwelisa.com.

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