“We are what we eat” is not an phrase that should be left to dietary references. We all know that if we eat excessive junk food we will become unhealthy. We put the cookies in our mouth knowing the consequences. We may be entirely fine with the consequences, and that is okay, but we are – generally – knowing that the pleasure in eating them may come with future physical displeasure. The cookie is the input. The weight gain is the output.
What we think less often about are the other things we consume. Beyond food. Things like news. Entertainment. Even the friendships we keep. Everything we expose ourselves to is an input of some kind. And those inputs have their own outputs, because…
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Isaac Newton first introduced the world to his three laws of motion in the Principia Mathmetica Philosophiae Naturalis in 1686. The third law is one we have all heard before:
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Newton was not speaking of food, of course. He was speaking of motion. There is an action that causes another action, a reaction. What that reaction is will be determined by the action itself. How much force object A exerts on object B determines the action of object B. Likewise, the type of force exerted by A on B will determine the action of B. The “input” here is the action, and the “output” is the reaction.
This is the same idea as saying…
You Reap What You Sow
What we are talking about is cause and effect, of course. Every effect has a cause. And that effect will turn into a cause that will result in some other effect leading to another cause/effect leading to… a perpetuating cycle of… everything.
How we apply this law, this truth, to our personal lives is most important. It drives who we are, what we become. We – to a large extent – have control over our inputs. We are verbs, after all. Our actions drive reactions.
Not everyone wants to acknowledge this, let alone deal with what it means, because as Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance.
Strong men believe in cause and effect.
If we are to become the person we want, we must put in the correct efforts. That is work. As Emerson pointed out, it easier to hope for luck. Luck means we don’t have to work for it. It either happens or it doesn’t. And if happens for someone else but not us, they got lucky. Not our fault.
This is as obvious as knowing that we need to exercise on a regular basis to get our bodies into shape. We then have to continue that work to stay there. We know that if we work hard, and smart, then we can get the results we want.
This truth is not restricted to work, however. It applies to all actions. Most importantly, it applies to decision making. Deciding might be the most important verb of all.
Decide not just what you do, but what you expose yourself to.
If we want to see different results in ourselves, we must take new actions from what we have been doing. We must create different causes for different effects. We cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect to see the same results. Luck is not going to break the cycle.
Take actionable steps.
“Thinking outside the box” is a cliche now. People hate on it. I get it. It needs to die, but… it doesn’t die for a reason. It’s true. To get new results, to figure out ways to break patterns, you have to step outside that pattern. You have to… think outside the box.
We can’t just keep taking the same steps and hoping that luck will kick in and force a new result. We need new steps, and if not new steps, new degrees of those same steps, more (or less) force.
Mental Inputs = Personal Outputs
We cannot poison the well of our minds. Our minds drive our decisions. It is where “I” begins.
Any actionable steps we take must include what mental inputs we expose ourselves to. Social media is the epitome of modern examples. How much we choose to expose our minds to, what types we expose ourselves to, it all impacts what and how we think. Those causes have their effects.
Too much lousy social media, too much bad news, it is poisonous food for the mind. Healthy mind choices are as essential as healthy food choices. The body is one. We have to watch the mental inputs if we want different personal outputs.