Saturday, March 10, 2007

Curious about Opposites: An Investigation and Discussion Prompted by the Law of Polarity

Definition of Polarity: That quality or condition of a body in virtue of which it exhibits opposite, or contrasted, properties or powers, in opposite, or contrasted, parts or directions; or a condition giving rise to a contrast of properties corresponding to a contrast of positions, as, for example, attraction and repulsion in the opposite parts of a magnet, the dissimilar phenomena corresponding to the different sides of a polarized ray of light, etc.

After watching “The Secret” twice, I have been reading and digesting Bob Proctor’s book, You Were Born Rich. In Chapter 9, “Don’t Think In Reverse,” Proctor discusses “The Law of Polarity, or as it is often referred to, The Law of Opposites.

This law clearly states everything has an opposite. You cannot have an up without a down, hot without cold or in without out. By the same token, if you can figure out why something you want to do cannot be done, by law, you must be able to figure out how it can be done.”

I not only loved and embraced the positive message of the stated law, I also started thinking about “opposites.” As many of you know already, I teach between nine and ten group fitness classes a week. Because of this, I do focus a great deal on strength, endurance and lean muscle mass. Therefore, we work a lot on muscles. And, every muscle group has an opposite muscle and/or muscle group.

For physical balance it is necessary that opposite muscles are developed to possess equal strength. Otherwise, the stronger muscles tend to take over. For example, if you have ever sprained or broken a leg, the other healthy leg bears the brunt of the weakened limb and often becomes swollen or out of balance.

Another example are our triceps (at the back of the upper arms). Most of our daily lifting is accomplished by using our biceps, so the triceps are weaker and looser. The same can happen with our abdominals. When we are performing abdominal crunches with our feet on the floor, our hip flexors - strong muscles - tend to take over. However, if we force ourselves to shift our legs up into the air, our abdominal muscles will be forced to benefit.

Now, that I have vented about exercise, let’s share some of the interesting - and sometimes, shocking - quotations I found about opposites:
  • The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.” - Plato, Greek philosopher
  • Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.” - Louis Aragon, French poet
  • Most people think of success and failure as opposites, but they both are products of the same process.” - Roger von Oech, American writer
  • I've made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite.” - Bertrand Russell, British philosopher
  • I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” - Gilbert K. Chesterton, English writer

Some more questions and thoughts about opposites:

  • We never fully grasp the import of any true statement until we have a clear notion of what the opposite untrue statement would be.” - William James, American philosopher
  • The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” - Jim Hightower, American activist
  • In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.” - Paul Dirac, British physicist
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” - Elie Wiesel, American novelist
  • If 'pro' is the opposite of 'con' what is the opposite of 'progress'?” - Paul Harvey, American journalist

Interesting quotations, don’t you think? Here are two more for you to chew on this coming week. And, as you know, I would love to read your comments.

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down.” - Julia Cameron, American author

Stressing output is the key to improving productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite.” - Paul Gauguin, French artist

Have a great and productive week!

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