Billi Gordon Ph.D.

Obesely Speaking

The Art and Science of Happiness

A simple but not easy solution to life problems

Posted Jun 16, 2015

We often over eat or get into unhealthy relationships because we are unhappy.[1] It seems we are always searching for happiness but seldom find it. That's because we do not understand ourselves, and subsequently how to achieve happiness. To fully understand ourselves, we must understand our origins. For this, we must turn to physics.

The second law of thermodynamics

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Source: Purchased from Shutterstock by UCLA for Dr. Gordon's use

An open system exchanges matter and energy with its surroundings, e.g. a topless pot of boiling water. You can add things, and energy escapes freely in the steam.  A closed system only exchanges energy with its surroundings, e.g., a pot of boiling water with a lid on it. An isolated system, such as a thermos or the Universe, does not exchange matter or energy with its surroundings. [2-4]

Entropy measures disorder within a thermodynamic system. The second law of thermodynamics states: The entropy of an isolated system will always increase over time, and changes in entropy can never be negative.  Thus, the Universe is progressing towards disorder, which is why ice cubes always melt and heat always moves from the warmer part of a room to the cooler. [5-7]

Beginnings of life on earth

In 2014, NASA began using fuel cells to demonstrate the process that led to biological life. [8] Basically, life occurred on earth as an adaptive response to the second law of thermodynamics. [9, 10] Heat from the electrical energy on the floor of the sea inspired an adaptive change in the energy from the back-and-forth transfer of electrons between molecules in certain compounds, causing protocells that would evolve into one-cell prokaryote bacteria—similar to the way heating sugar changes it into caramel.[11-14] Thus, our internal and external worlds are simply matter and energy operating within systems, according to the laws of physics.[12, 15-18]

Some claim that evolution disproves the second law of thermodynamics because evolution increases organization and complexity.  However, the law only applies to isolated systems, which Earth is not. So, even though biological organisms are becoming more organized on earth, the entire universe is becoming more disorganized—e.g. the sun releasing energy to the earth. Thus, the law stands.[19, 20] 

Life, the movie

Think of life being a movie called A Few Rules with Many Ways and Faces that depicts everything that happens in life as particles and forces moving about the only way they can. Defining the main character in a movie is key because that definition comprises race, age, gender, profession, education level, cognitive function, physical appearance, relationship status etc.  Where does he or she live; where was the character born?  Who were his or her parents and grandparents?  What are the defining events of the person’s life? What does the character do when he or she is angry, sad, lonely, horny, hungry, tired, or bored?

What about your happiness?

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Source: Purchased by UCLA from Shutterstock for Dr. Gordon

Can you answer these questions honestly about yourself? How palatable are the answers? Though varying, it is not pretty for any us. However, we are who we are, and do what we do because matter and energy comply with the laws of physics. Thus, there is never a need for shame, self-loathing or anger about people, places, things or behaviors. What we are experiencing, and how it makes us feel, stems from energy and matter in that moment doing the only thing they can, nothing more, nothing less.[21-26] It has always been like this, and always will be.  

Unhappiness comes from not being able to accept our selves and circumstances as is.[27-29] To find happiness and change, we must accept who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Albeit as terrifying as eating a meat-lovers pizza and putting on a bikini, there is tremendous freedom in this.  Self-acceptance must follow even if we lie, steal, cheat, or confront a sad truth such as unrequited love. It is just energy, matter, movement and physics, not good or bad, more than or less than, and it only exists during the moments it occurs. Judgments such as remorse, fear, regret, guilt, and shame are energies that could be better directed towards changing our circumstances.   

So then it’s all determined and we are at the mercy of quantum mechanics and the second law of thermodynamics?  Of course not! There are ways to influence the moment that changes the options for the movement of energy and matter. To change what is unacceptable, we need to introduce an outside force to cause our energy and matter to have an adaptive response similar to the adaptive response of the energy and matter on the sea’s floor that originally created life on earth.

Purchased by UCLA from Shutterstock for Dr. Gordon
Source: Purchased by UCLA from Shutterstock for Dr. Gordon

Anything that moves molecules changes energy and matter.  All thought processes move energy and matter.  Forgiving yourself, and moreover, embracing the truth of yourself, will influence your energy in a positive way. Acceptance is not surrender.  It is accurately assessing the circumstances for affective change without wasting unnecessary energy.  Meditation and psychotherapy changes thought processes and subsequently behaviors because it moves molecules that change present states of energy and matter.[30-32]

There are reasons why we are where we are in life: If we want to change that, we need to fully understand where we are.  Though counterintuitive, that is achieved by being fiercely honest about who we are, what we actually do, and why we really do it.[29, 33-40]  Once you do this, you can find ways to substitute alternate actions in the instance when an action is required.  For example, if you eat when you are bored, find something else that you like to do that doesn’t involve food.

If your relationships do not work, ask yourself why.  If a person does not want to be with you, then they are inappropriate.  So why seek an inappropriate person? What is it that draws you to this person?  Look under that rock and you will find a bunch of worms. However, the key is to not run from those worms, but rather to accept what you find as the matter and energy flow of your life at that moment.  

Awareness and acceptance are the keys to life.  Call it God, call it the master formula of the Universe’s entropic descent, or call it Bernice. We still do not have the jurisdiction to say something should or should not be happening; it is happening, which is more relevant than our opinion. We are not wiser than the Universe; we do not know more than God. To say something should not happen is saying we know better than God. How we respond to situations is the only right and power we have. 

Purchased by UCLA from Shutterstock for Dr. Gordon
Source: Purchased by UCLA from Shutterstock for Dr. Gordon

Circumstances are weather events in the climate of life.  The Universe rains tragedy and it shines triumph on all of us. Of the little we understand, this we know: in the history of the Universe, from the moment the first prokaryote bacteria appeared, until the last star flickers and falls into a black abyss, there will be one, and only one, you.  Therefore, it is both a holy and scientific obligation to be your best and to present yourself like the gift and vital piece of life’s puzzle that you are.  Remain fabulous and phenomenal.

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