“…spend some time – real, uninterrupted time – thinking about what’s important to you, what your priorities are. Then, work toward that and forsake all the others. It’s not enough to wish and hope. One must act – and act right.” – Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic.

We live in a society drowning in information, yet starving for wisdom. The key to rising above mediocrity can be distilled into a modicum of principles. It pays to know them.

Sir Isaac Newton is famed for, you know, laying the foundation of classical physics with his 3 Laws of Motion, and proving that fruit makes you smarter with his apocryphal apple story. Take that, carrots.

His Third Law of Motion, commonly understood as ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ or the ‘Law of Cause and Effect’, has been used to predict movements of stars and travel into space, and even formed the basis of the Karmic teaching: ‘what comes around, goes around.’ Whilst people claim to understand this principle, it’s rarely reflected in their actions. Why?

They forgot to apply basic physics.

How many times have you said any of the following;

  • I want to have $1,000,000.
  • I want have six pack abs that glisten in the sun.
  • I want a boyfriend/girlfriend who glistens in the sun.

Why do these things never come? Why, despite thinking about them, chanting incantations, or writing them down in journals, does the universe play hard to get?

You’ve got the equation backwards.

Instead of focusing on the cause, you’re seduced by an effect. Instead of focusing on the plan and its execution, you’re fixated the on results. The cart is before the horse.

Here’s the truth (supported by maths, and the ghosts of dead physicists): what you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.

  • To receive $1,000,000, you must give a $1,000,000 worth of value.
  • To have visible abdominal muscles, you must practice the eating and training strategies necessary to produce this output.
  • To have a relationship with the dream lover (or lovers) of your life, you must become the person this lover (or lovers) want to be with, internalising these behaviours and attitudes.

It is a simple equation, yet one we usually ignore. We blame our lack of achievement on our circumstances, instead of taking the first step in the process that will inexorably lead to our glory. If this seems nebulous, look no further than to how we view others who have achieved what might be considered successful:

  • He has a Ferrari – it must have been given to him.
  • She moves gracefully, like rain dancing on the surface of the ocean – she must be naturally talented in dance.

Maybe true, maybe not. Who. Cares.

Instead of indulging in jealousy toward others, why not take inspiration, and ask the questions that actually matter:

  • I wonder what value he gave to the world to afford that car? How can I do what he did?
  • I wonder what strategies she uses too dance so elegantly? How can I practice what she does?

Be your own locus of control. When you decide to start giving value to the world before it starts giving it back to you. Do this, and the world will respond in ways more creative and exhilarating than you can imagine. Newton’s law applies to everything in the macrocosmic universe – you are no exception.

Be the cause that generates the effects you strive for. Focus on the actions that will produce the results you want in your life. Put the damn horse in front of the cart.

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