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BY: T. Franklin Murphy | February 2017 (modified January 3, 2023)
Life has natural laws. Our successes and failures follow rules. To succeed, we must learn the rules.
There’s order in the universe; events don’t occur randomly—they follow laws. We shouldn’t confuse the order of laws with purposeful action by projecting human qualities of planning and intention on the universe. Natural laws (order) govern the functions of the universe. The laws apply to life in the universe. Laws create predictability. Acting within the laws grants an associated blessing. Unfortunately, living isn’t always predictable even though life is governed by laws.
We can’t boil down every action to a corresponding reaction. Life is too complex. Several laws come into play, overlapping and creating trade-offs, priorities and limitations. Our action may honor one law while defying a second involved law. We also must include the impact of others obeying and defying laws. Their actions collide with our lives, impacting outcomes, changing trajectories and introducing new variables.
Complexity blurs simple cause and effect predictions because millions of laws are in effect simultaneously; while we attend to behavior to incur the blessing of a specific law, other laws of order may interfere. We may proclaim unfairness; but the outcome honors the order of the universe. We may eat healthy and exercise but still suffer from heart disease. We don’t live in chaos— by living according to the ordered laws, we often reap the blessing. Healthy choices untainted by more powerful unknowns invite the healthy consequences.
See Life is a Complex Problem for more on this topic
Natural Laws and Their Consequences
We can't hide from the natural consequences of behavior. We may dodge immediate repercussions but our avoidance compounds the impact. Eventually, wrong behaviors reap hurtful rewards. The more they compound, the heavier the impact.
If I lie to my partner, I may not be caught. I keep secret the small element I feared to reveal. However, my simple lie motivates more protective lies. The relationship begins to build on falsehoods. Eventually the web of lies is revealed and the relationship collapses in a heap of untruths. The natural consequences of lying (disconnection) playout.
"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."
Henry David Thoreau
Taking a Wider Perspective
We need a wider perspective to escape the interference of unknowns. Evaluating a single behaviors by an obvious consequences can be misleading. Blessings of living right descend not from single choices but bundles of choices, working together to change current life trajectories. Not every choice is immediately rewarded—good or bad.
We can’t eat the Danish pastry instead of the apple and expect improved health. But a pattern of healthy eating—overtime—provides necessary nutrients feeding the mind and body; creating healthier functioning and shedding of unneeded fat. The same holds true for relationships, finances, and career enhancement. We act according to groupings of natural laws and the natural order of the universe responds.
See Behavior and Consequences for more on this topic
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
John F. Kennedy
Examining Our Life
If you haven’t experienced success in the critical arenas of your life, revisit behaviors. As you closely examine your life, you may discover entangling deceptions that confuse assessments. Unfortunately, we mislabel the effectiveness of our actions. A caveat of a thinking brain; we justify, dismiss, and mold explanations to make the harmful appear healthful.
In self-preservation, we misjudge our behaviors, examining the self through the cloudy mirrors of bias, relieving the self of painful responsibilities; we blame others for our failures. We comfort guilt, sorrow and anguish by ignoring personal blemishes—our brain short-circuits—reverting to the barbaric childhood defense of blaming others. We act wrong and call it right. When our compass is out of whack, losing contact with magnetic north, we will squander.
We need clearer vision. We need realistic understanding of the laws of succeeding. If we violate major groupings of applicable laws, failure is bound to follow. Avoiding responsibility, declaring freedom from the order of the universe, will eventually haunt our futures. We may fool ourselves, but natural laws remains in effect. Learn the laws, act accordingly, and reap the blessings.