The three laws of (e)motion!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Flying about for hours on end gives you some time to do that. Thinking back, thinking forward, reliving memories, cringing at mistakes, relishing precious moments.
And thinking of school. Yes, school. I spent 4 hours on a LAX-MIA transcon trying to reformulate the NRTL equations of fluid phase equilibria in my mind and dreaming of multiphase reactive distillation columns. I never claimed I wasn’t strange. And one of the constructive things that emerged from these random thoughts is what I like to grandiosely describe as the three laws of human emotion.
Sir Isaac Newton proposed laws that govern motion of bodies and forces acting on these bodies - The Laws of Motion. This would become the Basis of Newtonian/Classical Mechanics and have shaped generations of science and discovery and human progress. Of course, these laws only explain motion of objects on a macro scale but fail to adequately explain the motion of microscopic objects, hence the need for relativistic Physics and Quantum mechanics. But I digress…
So Newton’s Laws of Motion are,
First law: The velocity of a body remains constant unless an external force acts upon the body.
Second law: The acceleration of a body is parallel and directly proportional to the net force F and inversely proportional to its mass m, i.e., F = ma.
Third law: The mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies are equal, opposite and collinear. This is also expressed as, “For every action there is an equal and opposite action”
In a brilliant moment of alcohol and altitude induced clarity, I superimposed these life altering thoughts onto circumstances in my own life at the present time and came up with this theory - emotions are similar to velocity. They are also vectors that have magnitude and direction - keep us moving in our daily lives. Forces are life events, things that can cause a change in our emotions. We can have uniform emotion much like velocity where our emotions are constant and our emotions can also be made to change direction and/or magnitude when we are faced with life events (an external force).
Still with me? OK, having postulated that there is a fundamental equivalence between physical quantities and human ones, let’s take a look at Newton’s Laws through a human lens and examine the Laws of Emotions.
First Law: The emotion of a person about anything remains constant while in a particular state of mind unless acted upon by an external force or event.
Assume you’re sad about something. Let’s say you are sad about a break up or a lost love. As long as you remain in the state of mind of self-pity and regret, your emotions will remain constant unless you do one of two things. One way to impose an external force on the emotion vector is to consciously decide to change your state of mind and think about happier things, engross yourself in work and other things. The other option is that a truly external event occurs… something happy that forces your emotions to change. You meet someone new, get a raise at work, achieve one of your life long goals, or hit the lottery.
This can work in reverse as well. For instance you got a raise or a promotion. For as long as you remain in the state of mind that your promotion was a good thing, you will remain happy. But as soon as you change your state of mind to one of discontent and envy over another person who got a bigger raise/promotion or someone in a position higher than you, your emotion changes from happy to sad.
Second Law: The tendency for a person to experience certain emotions over and over again is proportional to the prevalent thoughts in their mind and accompanying events.
This is similar to the premise that you are what you think. A person who constantly thinks negative thoughts about himself, others or situations is more likely to encounter negative events and has the general disposition of a sad person. Likewise a person who constantly thinks positive thoughts about himself, others or situations is more likely to encounter positive events and has the general disposition of a happy person.
Third Law: For every emotion expressed by a person there is an equal emotion expressed towards them.
This can be called the law of relationships. Not necessarily romantic relationships but relationships between people and how we relate to and with each other. I propose that when you are in a relationship with someone, be it friend, girlfriend, brother, sister, uncle etc., the emotions you express or project through your actions to the person are the emotions you will get back. If you are always happy around someone, there is a strong possibility that the person will be happy around you. If you are sad around a person or always belligerent, I bet you they will be sad and belligerent around you as well. Human relationships are a subtle give and take of emotions.
So there you have it – the three immutable laws of emotion :) Sometime in the near future I will try to apply Einstein’s theory of relativity to the realm of human emotions – this should open up a world beyond imagination!!