Newton’s First & Second Laws of Motion

thw-blog-inertia.jpg

inertia: indisposition to motion, exertion, or change: inertness

THERE is just no avoiding physics. In working to reestablish good daily habits, I am definitely encountering Newton’s First Law, the Law of Inertia: An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.

While not an object at rest, I am not quite moving at the velocity and in the direction I would prefer. To accelerate, to change my my speed and direction, to alter my equilibrium, requires being acted upon by an external force.

Which brings me to Newton’s Second Law explaining that the acceleration of an object depends directly upon the net force acting upon the object, and inversely upon the mass of the object. As the force acting upon an object is increased, the acceleration of the object is increased; and as the mass of an object is decreased, the acceleration of the object is increased.

Which I’m simply interpreting as PACE (acceleration) = DO MORE (force) / LIGHTEN UP (mass).

The difficulty with doing more is acting as one’s own external force. Bringing a new energy into the seemingly closed-system of my day-to-day habits is a challenge. It can also be refreshing, but it’s an effort that nevertheless requires intention, awareness, and discipline. It’s the practice of nudging the metronome.

One of the most useful tools I’ve recently encountered in overcoming such inertia is Michael Neill’s distinction between mood and desire (via Jennifer Louden). Inertia and mood go hand in hand, “Since our moods are often tied up in old habits and patterns of thinking, following them tends to just create more of the ‘same old, same old’ in our lives.” But acting on true wants, regardless of mood, are daily choices that change the momentum of our work and lives.

“Lightening up,” on the other hand, is physical and mental. It has to do with everything from cleaning a cluttered space and purging unwanted stuff, to a healthy body, to a good sense of humor and play, to saying “no,” to letting go of the past. Weighted down, it is difficult overcome inertia.

I’ve been aware for some time now that “doing more” – aka thinking, planning, dwelling less – is a skill and habit I need to strengthen. And I also understand the benefits of lightening up. But the connection between the two, between momentum and mass, was a great aha! moment for me in writing this post this morning (I even taped the equation to my computer to be reminded of it). I’ve been putting all my piles on the back burner behind billable hours and daily demands, sorting and cleaning in “spare” moments evenings and weekends. But it turns out that lightening up is a higher priority than that. All that stuff is slowing me down, holding me back. So, for the next couple weeks, after attending to my basics, many of my intermediate moves are going to be all about lightening up.

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1 Response to “Newton’s First & Second Laws of Motion”



  1. 1 Uppers « How THW Gets In Gear Trackback on March 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm

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