Simplify human behavior with the laws of comfort, power, love, and hate.
Do you remember when your friend leashed out on you, and you didn’t understand why? Or did your girlfriend or boyfriend break up with you, and you had no clue about their reasons?
It happened to me too many times to count, and it still happens sometimes. But human behavior is complicated, and trying to analyze each aspect of it is close to impossible.
The Simplification of Human Behavior
When I was a child, I remember having a problem understanding people. Not because I couldn’t empathize with them, but because their actions surprised me most of the time. And since I didn’t expect their decisions, I couldn’t respond accordingly, so I ended up excluded.
Then I grew up, and I realized how human comprehension is crucial for survival.
If you want to relate to others, you need to understand their intentions and interact with them, or they will reject you.
But even with this knowledge, it took me years to solve the problem.
When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the three laws of Newton. Not because of their profound meaning, but because they explained such a complex argument comprehensibly.
I tried to understand how I could simplify human behavior with three laws of similar power. So as Newton defined three rules to solve any force problem, I translated them to fit the complex laws behind human behavior.
The 3 Laws of Newton and their Behavioural Counterparts
Before explaining the three rules of Newton applied to human behavior, let’s review those of physics.
- Law of Inertia: if a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest or keep moving in a straight line at constant speed unless a force acts upon it.
- Law of Force: the time rate of change of the momentum of a body is equal in both magnitude and direction to the force imposed on it. The energy of a body is the product of its mass and its velocity.
- Law of Attraction and Reaction: when two bodies interact, they exchange forces equal in magnitude but have opposite directions.
Analysis of the 3 Laws of Newton
If you analyze them closely, you can notice how these laws apply to human behavior as well. For example, the first law represents the movement of people, what they are doing or what their passions and dreams are. Instead of talking about an inanimate body, you could say that if a person is in a state of comfort, it will remain so until it is acted upon by a sudden external force.
The second law explains the change in power of people, what gives them the force to keep going, and the energy or system to strive even when they are exhausted and drained. As for the famous Newtonian formula, the second law is the product between motivation and structure, two concepts that perfectly marry together to enhance people’s productivity.
And the third law represents human interactions and how their dreams, passion, and movements interact. If they collide, if they get along, if one pushes the other, and so on. The third law defines a response of the same intensity, with opposite direction, for each decision taken.
These are the three laws of Newton for human behavior, but let’s analyze them more in-depth.
The 3 Laws of Newton for Human Behavior
1 — Law of Comfort
“If a person is in a state of comfort, it will remain in that state unless it is acted upon by a sudden voluntary or involuntary interruption.”
Humans are creatures that hardly modify their behavior. We are made of habits, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
If not forced to, you will remain in your comfort zone, as limiting as it can be, until some external forces get you out of it. So even if sometimes you try as hard as you can, it seems impossible to change your manners.
Cognitive biases, like functional fixedness or the status quo bias, make it easier for you to follow fixed routines instead of doing things differently. The human body has always prioritized expenses limitation, and having new experiences require more energy and stress than repeating well-known patterns. So you will always chemically prefer remaining in the comfort zone instead of breaking out of it.
Barriers and Enhancers
However, as for the laws of Newton in physics, some forces can move you from your state of inertia. So instead of following a straight path at a constant speed, they can accelerate, slow, or even deviate you. These forces split into two categories: barriers and enhancers.
- The barriers are forces that keep you from following your state of inertia, and they usually slow you down or rarely modify your path. A barrier example is work-related stress that prevents you from enjoying your evening or a network problem preventing you from surfing the Internet. In our life, even the most insignificant barrier can become insurmountable. So it becomes crucial to prepare yourself to stave off it.
- The enhancers, instead, are forces that push you in a faster state of inertia. For example, the deep work and flow abilities you reach when working on a task for more than a couple of minutes. However, too high speeds can make you lose control of the road, so make sure to keep enhancers under control too.
So until there aren’t any changes in barriers or enhancers, if you are in the comfort zone, your brain and body will keep you there. Otherwise, if one of them occurs, the second law applies.
2 — Law of Power (or Momentum)
“The time rate of change of the power of a person is equal to the product between motivation and productivity.”
The law of power is the ability of people to consciously switch their behavior between two states of inertia. As explained before, a barrier or an enhancer can influence movement. So the final state of inertia can improve or lower your speed.
But what gives humans this ability?
As for the second law of Newton, power is the product between motivation and systems.
In this formula, motivation corresponds to the mass of a body of the second law of Newton, and it follows the classic rules of physics. As for the magnitude, which is related to the energy of a body, motivation represents the energy that you can release over a short period. So the more you get motivated, the less power it will take to initiate a movement or a change.
However, if you use up your motivational reserves, your energy drops too, so you need to take care of it and refill yourself with motivation constantly.
Unlike motivation, which is pure instinct, systems represent the environment you create to release your energy. This includes your surroundings, which boost your productivity, but also the mental tools you use. For example, how to keep away distractions or how to enable a flow state of mind.
These two parameters can compensate one another for short periods to maintain the same levels of power.
At the beginning of a project, for example, you have elevated motivational power but poor systems that will limit your ability to change. However, over time, your motivation will fluctuate. But if you build efficient ways of avoiding distractions, your ability to change will remain constant or even grow. For this reason, adequate systems are crucial, and you cannot rely purely on motivation.
3 — Law of Love and Hate
“When two people interact, for every choice they make, there’s a response of the same intensity, but opposite direction.”
While the first two laws represent the interaction of a person with its surroundings, the third establishes links between people. So pay attention to this law when connecting with others.
When two people connect, for every choice one makes, there is an equal and opposite response. This is the basics of physics and human behavior — if you push someone, they will force you back with the same intensity.
For this reason, numerous coaches spur you to find a way to pull people instead of pushing them. There are many ways you can attract people, and many of them involve taking your attention away from others and concentrating on yourself.
According to Life Hack, some of the most successful attraction techniques involve becoming brilliant and humorous, loving yourself, and living with discipline. Once you do that, you develop a force of attraction that leads people towards you. So by focusing your power of change towards profound and life-changing goals, you inspire others to follow you and help you push in the same direction instead of stopping you.
This is how friendship and love begin. If you inspire someone and fascinate them with your life goals or vision, they will enjoy spending time around you. However, if you try to impose your vision and force them to accept it, you will repel each other.
The third law extensions
But the third law can also extend to other fields of human behavior. For example, you can use it to explain how tradeoffs, consequences, or external influences work.
1 — Tradeoffs
Our life is made of choices, and every choice you make implies excluding hundreds of other possibilities. If you choose to work out instead of studying, your shape will improve, but your marks will lower. This is a classic tradeoff: choosing something in exchange for something else.
2 — Consequences
Also, by working out too many times, tradeoffs may transform into unwanted outcomes. Your education could collapse entirely, or your friends could stop relying on your presence. These are the classic consequences — repetitive tradeoffs without any balance.
3 — External Influences
Lastly, you cannot control everything that happens in your life because sometimes other people’s power of change influences you. If you want to attend a course, for example, but the registration period has expired, you can do nothing about it. In this case, the power of change of the institution that defined the registration period exceeded yours.
Human behavior is complicated, much more than physics.
When interacting with other people or analyzing your behavior, you need to consider too many variables to get an accurate result. And this complexity makes it difficult even for scientists or behavioral analysts to have a clear view of the choices someone makes.
But as for physics, where Newton simplified the rules of motion and forces, you can untangle human behavior. And even if you can’t confirm someone’s behavior, at least you can sense and explain it.
So next time you need to understand human behavior, you can use this general model.
First, figure out the law of comfort, so which is the direction of the subject. Second, spot the forces acting upon them if they are barriers or enhancers. And third, analyze love and hate relationships, so who is pushing or pulling away from the subject. Once finished, you will understand better the subject’s behavior and also their needs and limits.
This is how to use the 3 laws of Newton to simplify human behavior and improve every aspect of your life.
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Article first published on Mind Cafe.