Contributed by @philhagspiel | Edited and curated by @philhagspiel
Disorder increases over time.
It is more likely that things go wrong than right.
The Second Law Of Thermodynamics (coming from physics) states that there is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state.
In simple terms, this means that things naturally tend towards decay and chaos (from a macro perspective). The reason is that from all possible configurations of elements in a system, the number of configurations that create a chaotic state is a lot larger than the number of configurations that create an ordered state. When things are left alone (i.e. no energy is used to make them orderly), they tend to become more chaotic.
While this has many implications in science, especially physics, it is a principle that helps us understand many fundamental realities and dynamics of everyday life.
For example, if you have a jigsaw puzzle, there is only one configuration in which you can solve it, regardless of how many pieces there are. But there are millions of wrong ways to arrange all pieces — even if there are only 10 pieces (try this out for yourself here.)
Likewise, while there are many different ways in which things in your life can go right (privately and professionally), there are almost infinitely more ways in which they can go wrong (we all know this).
The main implication of this fundamental feature of reality is that we have to make an effort to put things into place and to create structure and order — if left to chance, things will likely go wrong in some way.
“It is possible to fail in many ways (for evil belongs to the class of the unlimited (...) and good to that of the limited), while to succeed is possible only in one way.”
— Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics (Book 2)
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
— Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina
➞ Without evoking physics, the Anna Karenina Principle explains why things often go wrong in the reality of our everyday life. Get a quick understanding of it with this Wikipedia article.
➞ Video deep dives into the fascinating but complex reality of entropy and its implications can be found here, here and here.
➞ Explore this for a deep dive into the Second Law of Thermodynamics from a physics perspective and how it relates to systems of chemistry and biology as well as to the nature of time.
If this idea resonates with you, some of these resources might add value to your life.
A Short History Of Nearly Everything
Fooled By Randomness
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces
Six Easy Pieces
A Brief History Of Time
Lex Fridman Podcast
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Closer to Truth
Crash Course: Statistics
Physics Videos by Eugene Khutoryansky
Up and Atom
PBS Space Time