The Psychology of Entropy

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Psychology


Entropy is a measure of the energy not available for work. The second law of thermodynamics says that, over time entropy increases in an isolated system. What’s meant here is a controlled experiment or systems that become isolated naturally. But natural life is not isolated.

Life contradicts this law and winds up because it takes energy from its environment. The entropy in the environment increases so that life can keep going. The sun is slowly dying, over billions of years. It’s energy goes into light which feeds plants. Animals eat the plants. We eat the plants and animals. That’s a short overly simple explanation of entropy in nature.

What Does Entropy Have To Do With Me?

The environment can also suck the energy out of systems. Physical objects have no choice in the matter. Their situation dictates whether they are losing energy. Animals can move away from environments that zap their energy. We can change our environments without going anywhere. Are you settling for an environment that depletes your energy without giving anything back?

Altering Your Environment

Your environment is both the physical space where you live and work, and the people in your social world. If you’re getting the energy knocked out of you by your environment, something needs to be done. The more difficult but less disruptive solution is to alter your environment.

Improving your space at home only requires reading up on interior decorating. Change your pictures. Rearrange your furniture. It’s all under your control.

Changing your physical space at work is another matter. Anything seen by customers is dictated by the company. How about what the customers don’t see? Your side of the counter, your documents, the cube walls that only face you, the employees-only break room and washroom. Can you bring in a little of the opposite of what you see all the time?

The physical environment is nothing compared to the social environment. If your friends are making you feel bad, you can find new friends. But if it’s your boss or co-workers leaving you emotionally drained, it’s not so easy. Can you change shifts or workgroups?

If you can’t get away from your social group, try adding to it. Get involved in additional projects with different people. Spend more time with those people who are life affirming instead of life sucking. If none of this helps you alter your environment, you may have no choice.

Leaving Your Environment

Sometimes friends who are downers just won’t go away. This is because nobody wants to be friends with people who make them feel bad. You don’t have time for them, but they always have time for you. Oodles of it. You have to make it clear you don’t want to know them. Harsh, but necessary if they don’t get the hints. In the worse case scenario they become stalkers and you may need to move away to end the relationship.

When you can’t get away from negative personalities at work, it’s time to find another job. No employer is unique. You can always find another job doing the same thing somewhere else. This is also an opportunity to modify your job type. Can you do something almost the same as you do now? If so, you’ll not only reduce negativity but give yourself new challenges. New is good. Challenges are good. Both are ways to increase your happiness.

What steps can you take to improve your personal environment today?

Article text copyright 2011 David Arthur Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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