I LOVE conversations, especially if they inspire me to expand my mind, my thinking and my views.
Earlier this year, I surprised one of my best friends in Germany. We both had big birthdays recently and instead of giving each other presents we gave each other the most precious gift we have for each other: Time together. The last two days of my visit we spent with her family and her godson, Simeon, who studies Physics in Aachen, Germany. I must admit, Physics was NOT my strong suite in high school – and I think gender stereotypes were not the last reason for that. Anyway, the last conversations I had about Physics were – actually not in high school – because I asked my husband to explain e.g. the steam engine to me on long drives during road trips in Australia and all over the world … long story short …. Simeon talked about his studies and despite the foreign nature of the subject we engaged in a deep conversation about all kinds of topics and at one point, we got to the topic of the Triple Point of a substance which is the temperature and pressure at which the three aggregate states (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium. Hard to image, right? Our first question was how that looks like but as always in life the question of looks should be only second nature. More important is the question of what that really means and for the two psychologists at the table especially “What could that mean for life?”. Let me take a shot!
There are – of course – different substances (periodic table, chemical formulas, … we all remember that) and a human being consists mostly of water which is convenient for the parallels I’m trying to draw here as we’re all very familiar with this vitally important element. For liquid water, ice Ih, and water vapor the triple point is defined as 611.657 Pa (0.006 atm) and 273.16 K (0.01 °C) (to learn more see Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_point).
We wondered if the Triple Point is good or bad, something to obtain or avoid. As often in life the answers is “It depends”. On one hand the Triple Point is something that is artificially induced using the variables temperature and pressure i.e. hitting the equilibrium doesn’t happen easily or by mistake. But it’s not impossible either. By varying the variables pressure and temperate the Triple Point can be created. Take-away no. 1 is: Keeping the pressure and the temperature low makes water reach the equilibrium state which – transferred to life - seems to be quite desirable if you consider that synonyms for equilibrium are balance, symmetry, stability and so on. Simply put: Less pressure and less heat for water (which we mostly consist of) = balance. But the Triple Point varies for each element i.e. each element needs its very own variations of pressure and temperature, too. And we all have experienced that it can be hard to find the right amount of pressure and temperature in life. Thus, I invite you to pay very close attention to your very individual ideal settings.
At the same time, the Triple Point is an exceptional phenomenon and therefore not just an environment or condition which is easy to “find”. Which makes me think that we cannot be everything at the same time with the same amount of energy. Life bears choices. Do you want to be solid, fluid or vapor? Do you want to focus on being grounded, flexible or energetic? Your choice! Sometimes adapting your behaviors from situation to situation is the solution which makes you survive pressure and heat. Because for being everything at the same time very specific conditions in your environment would need to exist, their actual co-existence in nature is very rare - if not impossible - and you have less control over those outside variables than over yourself and the state you choose - literally. Therefore, it can also be fulfilling to find your “equilibrium” by choosing who you want to be and what you want to do instead of trying to change your surroundings. A comforting thought, especially for the upcoming holidays, right?
To me, this little story shows why humans are the most complex thing I can think of and why the science of Psychology is so fascinating. And it’s good to know that we have options: one is to change the settings, the environment, taking the pressure out as far as we can and the other is to choose what we want to be and do to deal in the best possible way with the situation we’re in.
Brainy greets, live whole and make your choices – not only for the holidays, Ladies & Gents!
Sonja with Connie & Simeon