If you read my article Breaking the Rules But Obeying the Law, you would have gleaned that there are laws that govern us in the world, such as the law of gravity. These laws have, built in them, the consequences and the rewards for breaking and obeying them. No one will come and punish you for stepping off the corner of the roof of a very tall building. The law of gravity itself will pay you the consequences of that.
We understand all these things physically. What we most times don’t realize is that these laws are also in effect non-physically.
I didn’t do so well in Physics back in high school. I remember getting an E8 grade in my first term of taking the subject and my dad was so disappointed because he had a Bachelor’s in Applied Math & Physics. So, that holiday, he made sure he privately tutored me in the subject of Physics. I didn’t enjoy it much, but the only things I remember marveling at were the laws. They were so realistic and applied to everyday life. I even started doing well in the calculations because, having understood the principles, I could set up the right equations for solving any Physics “word problem” at that level.
“Just master the principles!” He would always yell.
Mastering those principles has helped me master the way the world really works to some degree now. You see, those laws in physics apply to our personal lives as much as they apply to the world around us.
Let’s take a look at only 3 of them and see how true it is. I hope that, from here, you would think of more laws and how they apply to your personal lives as well; because whether you know it or not they are currently rewarding you for obeying them or punishing you for breaking them.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The laws of thermodynamics are some of the most important laws in all of Physics. The second law states that:
“the entropy of an isolated system always increases”.
To make this simple, think about a cup of very cold water. When you leave it on your table, does it get colder? Of course not! It loses its coldness (except you’re in Canada). Same thing with a cup of very hot water; it loses it hotness when left isolated.
If you leave a nice plate of food on your table for two weeks, do you return to meet a very tasty meal there or a pungent decay? If you leave a car outside and not use it for years and years and years, do you meet a perfectly functioning vehicle there or a piece of metal junk? Even your bedroom; does it stay tidy or does it always tend to disarray until you tidy it up again?
You get the point. The world is built in such a way that things always tend toward disorder unless they are constantly maintained. Your marriage has to be constantly worked on or it will fail. You have to constantly communicate with your friends or they become acquaintances and then strangers. You have to keep building your business –constantly serving customers and clients –or you would start losing profits and it will fail.
Nothing stays the same. Change is always constant and things are either getting better or worse. Getting better requires a lot of work while ‘worse’ is very easy to achieve –just do nothing!
Newton’s First Law of Motion
I’m sure you’ve heard of Isaac Newton. And if you haven’t, I suspect you’re googling him now. Well, he was a very smart guy that came up with 3 Laws of Motion, which describe the relationship between a body/object, the forces acting upon it, and then its response to those forces by how it moves (or stops moving).
The first law of motion states that:
“an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force”.
This is why there’s a goalkeeper in front of the goal post; because the ball will keep rolling into the net if no external force stopped it. A car would keep descending down a hill, if the brakes were not applied or a big tree or parked truck or something were not there to stop it from moving.
In our personal lives, it is easy to go downhill. Remember in the law of entropy how if you do nothing about your situation, it doesn’t stay the same but actually gets worse? And we are all tempted to do nothing because that’s the easy thing to do – to go downhill, to take the path of least resistance.
We need an external force –good friends, mentors, parents, a bad situation (unfortunately) –to wake us up and stop us from going down the wrong path. If not, we will continue in that state of rest or in uniform motion, declining to our peril.
I had a bad habit that I always wanted to break. I would promise myself, after doing it, that I wouldn’t do it again. And of course, I would find myself doing it again. It took a very dear friend to come into my life and hold me to a higher standard, making me promise her (not myself this time) that I wouldn’t do it again. And because of the respect I had for her, and the fact that I didn’t want to have to lie to her, I took it more seriously and worked on breaking the habit!
We need people outside of us to hold us to higher standards. If we don’t have such friends, we would inevitably slide towards destruction.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
The last law is from Isaac Newton’s laws of motion as well. This one’s a little tricky. It states that:
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
This means that in every interaction between two bodies/objects, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.
So, when your little toddler is running around the house and mistakenly runs into a wall, she falls backwards because the force she applied to the wall, was returned to her in the same measure. When you shoot a gun, you recoil –moving back suddenly because the force with which the bullet left the gun, when you fired, was returned to you in equal measure.
So, when you hit something, it’s not only that thing that gets hit. You get hit as well; you feel the impact of your actions immediately.
This law shows up in our interactions with people, in terms of our feelings and emotions. Let’s say you have a friend that, for some reason, you want to pull away from. You begin to distance yourself from that person and maybe even begin to keep malice with them. The reality is that you too would feel distanced from that friend. You would begin to feel that they are also keeping malice with you. You’re only just getting back the force you applied on them, in equal measure.
Your tendency might be to deny this one, but I would like for you to become aware and check your feelings. Next time you judge somebody in your heart, do you feel judged as well? Next time you help a customer or client with their needs and you make them happy, do you feel happy with yourself and with them as well? Next time you post a mean-spirited comment below an article; do you feel hurt as well?
Don’t answer, just observe your feelings and become aware from today. You might just notice that Newton’s third law of motion is taking effect in your personal (non-physical) life.
There are rules (in society) that protect us from breaking the law –even these laws –and reaping the consequences. The best of them all is the golden rule: “Do to others what you want them to do to you”.
Following that one rule will keep these laws from working against you, most especially this 3rd Law of Motion.
So what do you think? Any more laws you know of?