The law of reversed effort: The harder you try, the harder you fall - Deepstash

Keep reading for FREE

The harder you try, the harder you fall

There are many moments in life when trying too hard is counterproductive. Aldous Huxley called this the law of reversed effort.

Try as we might, it is nearly impossible to consciously will yourself to sleep. Sleep comes to those who let their mind wander and focus on anything other than sleep itself. Count sheep, control your breathing, listen to an audiobook, or whatever — so long as it turns your mind from wanting to sleep.


548 reads

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed.”



572 reads

Combining relaxation with activity

It’s the idea that the more we try to do something, the worse we become at it.

Suppose, for instance, that you are learning how to ride a bike for the first time. You are told to hold the handlebars a certain way, to push off with this foot, to pedal at that speed, to sit in a specific position, to hold your balance here, and so on. There is a small book’s worth of micro-instructions when learning to ride a bike. When we ride a bike, we know all these things, but we do not try to do them. They just happen.

In Huxley’s words, it’s “combining relaxation with activity.”


442 reads

Wu Wei

Wu Wei

But, there’s a spiritual or holistic way of viewing the “law of reversed effort” as well. It’s something that has a much longer history than Aldous Huxley — it’s the Daoist idea of “Wu Wei.”

'The inaction'

The word “surrender” comes laden with negative connotation. Surrender is cowardly or weak. 

To surrender to a greater power — or a nobler, righteous one — is not an act of cowardice.It is an act of profound wisdom. There is nothing praiseworthy about swimming in a storm or punching a bear in the face. There is wisdom in knowing our limits, in embracing humility, and even in being pushed around.


446 reads

You can’t force it

There are many moments in life when trying harder makes things worse. When you have a mosquito bite, a broken bone, or a nosebleed, you leave it be. Picking, prodding, and probing only exacerbate the problem. So, too, with a lot of life’s major moments.

Perhaps it is time to step away from what you are doing and enjoy Wu Wei or inaction. After all, if I tell you not to think of pink elephants, there’s only one way to do it.


428 reads



By curating the content I consume, I document my journey through time and space.

Being stuck in overthinking and feeling bad about it makes it a vicious cycle. Sitting back and relaxing makes it easy.

Ready for the next level?

Read Like a Pro


Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas


Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.


2 Million Stashers



5,740 Reviews

App Store



72,690 Reviews

Google Play


Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations


Claim Your Limited Offer

Get Deepstash Pro