The Pendulum’s Swing

When I was in 8th grade, our class visited Washington D.C.  We visited many historical sites that moved me in one way or another.  One item that captivated my attention was a large pendulum that systematically knocked down pegs in specific time intervals.  I’ve also attached a video to a very cool pendulum science experiment.  The amazing thing about pendulums for me is not their scientific application but the way they mirror many of the human experiences.  Talk to any historian, economist or scientist and you will see that the cycles of humans often swing just like a pendulum.  Although these swings may seem inevitable, there are a few ways to affect the pendulum: change the point of equilibrium and create micro-swings.

Changing the Point of Equilibrium – Basically this means that if my weight swings between 190 lbs to 200 lbs throughout the year, 195 is the point of equilibrium.  It is the middle of the swing.  The reason for the swing over the year is based on several factors such as weather, holidays, exercise and other.  There is a daily swing as well.  So if I was to keep the swing (which I can’t fully stop) but move the equilibrium point to 193, I’m on a healthier swing at bare minimum.  Over time this new swing will become the norm and I won’t even give it much thought.

Creating Micro-Swings – Although I cannot completely stop the pendulum, I can reduce the arc of the swing to make it almost seem like it is standing still.  The issue with creating micro-swings is how large of a pendulum are you dealing with?  Maintaining something like hydration levels is relatively easy to do and track.  However creating a micro-swing for finances may be almost impossible.  The key to creating a micro-swing is an opposite force.  The pendulum wants to swing in its normal patter, you need to apply a slowing force to reduce the swing.

Why the long discussion of pendulums?  Something came across my news feed yesterday with reference to the “JFK Challenge”.  It was a physical fitness program instituted at La Sierra High School.  It impressed President Kennedy so much that he wanted to spread it nationally.  At the moment there is a campaign to do a film on the program.  Go to

Although I am not sure that such a regimented physical education program will be adopted in the US, I do believe that we are at the wrong end of a pendulum swing.  Perhaps a national change in our Point of Equilibrium is needed.  A recognition that there is a correlation between physical fitness and many of the attributes that we desire such as happiness, confidence and longevity.  That change would be a great one to see in my lifetime and perhaps one day we could have a micro-swing.

Change for the better will almost never be a policy handed down to us.  Change for the better is a decision that needs to be made by the majority of us.


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