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When was the last time you were overthinking about some problem in life? Most probably, just before you started reading this blog post or maybe you are still worried and thinking about it. Life somehow keeps getting more and more chaotic every day. Relationships, finances, house, body, or even phone is getting worse, decaying by every passing minute. Nothing feels in control and the amount of mental space that the thoughts about these things take can't even be expressed in words.
Life feels so hard by now that we just feel trapped in this web of chaos and it feels like that there's no escape. We all are trying to deal with the chaos without understanding the roots of it. For understanding that we need to understand an important concept of physics and chemistry, "Entropy".
What is Entropy and why are we discussing it outside a science lab?
The second law of thermodynamics states that “as one goes forward in time, the net entropy (degree of disorder) of any isolated or closed system will always increase (or at least stay the same).”
Life is a result of all the small but increasing chaos in the world whether it is on the molecular, micro, or macro levels.
Imagine that you're building a pyramid of cards and you left it half completed in a room where there can be no wind or anything that can make it fall off. Now, overnight, a heavy truck passed through your street and the vibration originated from the movement of the truck made that pyramid to collapse.
That situation is analogous to entropy. The pyramid represents the structure, familiarity, and the order that you try to create in your life but the truck represents the external forces that are simply not in your control which will bring more chaos in your life.
“The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.” - Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
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Entropy is everywhere
We all experience entropy in our every day lives. The career that started as enjoyable and easy, is not gruesome and difficult. The rooms that were left clean and organized are now messy and gets messier every day. People who used to be excited to see us but are unmoved. And it is all because of the small disorders that try to change our life.
We're in 2020 and there are so many social movements that are taking place in the world with a belief that those movements can change the world for future generations. Every one of us is trying their best to reduce chaos and increasing order. But we need to realize the disorder is our default state and order is temporary and fragile.
That might sound depressing and sad but if you think about it and imagine a world where nothing ever changed, no one aged, food would never get rotten or nothing breaks, then why would have any innovations take place? We need to come at peace with the fact that disorder is going to stay, which is more important instead of focusing on whether we can prevent entropy which is impossible.
We cannot prevent entropy but we can curb it.
Because things move towards disorder over time, we put ourselves in an advantageous position by creating stability. Stability can be of two types: active and passive. To understand passive stability, think of a yacht, once crafted it can sail without any input and it won't drown. Whereas an airplane is an example of active stability because it will crash if the pilot isn't actively monitoring and controlling it.
All the things that we deal with every day require one of them or the combination to reduce entropy. Our health would deteriorate faster than age if not put in the active effort to create stability by having a healthy diet and working out regularly. And so is the requirement of relationships. They will rot badly and fast enough that you won't be able to manage the disorder and might end up waking one day to a breakup or divorce papers.
Finances on the other hand can benefit from passive stability as well. If you budget properly, set up your automatic savings, and don't spend more than you earn to keep up with the Joneses, then you can let it sail and you'll still accumulate wealth.
Managing entropy is a continuous and constant effort. We often blame ourselves, others, and circumstances for the complications in our lives, but what we fail to realize is that the forces of nature are actively working against our best interests.
So, instead of worrying and lamenting about the fact that how our lives are more complicated than it was a few years back, we should come to peace with the fact that disorder is the natural course of the universe and the only thing that you can do is to actively try to make your life so much more stable than most of the external forces don't have any impact on life.
That's it for this blog post and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you have a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the Reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.
Stay healthy, Stay safe.
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