Home / Discipline / Newton’s 3rd Law of Success: Action and Reaction

Newton’s 3rd Law of Success: Action and Reaction


Today we finish our series on Isaac Newton’s 3 Laws of Success. In case you missed them, you can check out the other two here:

Newton’s 1st Law of Success: Perpetual Motion, Newton’s 2nd Law of Success: Acceleration

Today we will talk about Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion and how it applies to our journey towards happiness and success.

Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion basically states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Some examples of this would be someone shooting a rifle where the force to propel the bullet forward also produces a force in the opposite direction that kicks back against the shoulder of the shooter. Newtons 3rd 1If two people wearing roller skates put their hands together and push off, they will both shoot off with equal force but in opposite directions. When you sit down in a chair you are putting a force downward on the chair. If the chair is not strong enough to provide an equal force pushing back up, the chair collapses and you fall to the ground.

This law is all about symmetry and balance.

If something moves forward, something moves back.

So how can we apply it to our lives?

This law could probably be applied in many different ways but I want to focus on one specific comparison, and it has to do with our journey for self-improvement.

Newton Unbalanced-scalesThe best way to visualize it is to think of a set of scales.

On one side of the scale is a plate for all of the positive aspects we have developed in our lives. All of our positive thoughts, actions, and habits.

On the other side is the plate for all of the negative aspects we have allowed into our life. The negative thoughts, criticism, self-doubt, destructive habits, bad friends, etc.

Now, let’s pretend that every one of us has 100 coins divided into the two piles. Some may have a majority on the positive side, some may have a majority on the negative side. Everybody is different in the way their coins are divided.

Our goal is to get as many coins onto the positive side as possible. We do it through goal setting, hard work, developing positive habits, self-discipline, and training our brain to think positively.

This is where Newton’s 3rd Law works in our favor.

Every time we succeed in moving a coin to the positive side (action), one coin is removed from the negative side (equal and opposite reaction).

The more positive habits you develop, the more you will see your negative habits disappearing. The more you go out to serve other people, the less selfish you will be. The more you focus on positive thoughts, the less time you will have to be self-critical. The more you set daily goals to work towards, the less you will procrastinate or waste time.

When you make positive progress in your life, you are also leaving behind negative hindrances.

Newton's 3rd Visual

Unfortunately, Newton can work against us!

The flip side to the above paragraph is that opposite is also true. If we increase our negative or self-destructive habits (action), we decrease the number of positive, success habits we perform (equal and opposite reaction).

Newton frustrated-manWe all have those bad habits that just frustrate us from time to time. It could be procrastination, laziness, unhealthy substance addictions, self-criticism, gossiping, over-eating, or anything else that we feel holds us back. The more of them that we hold onto to, the less coins we will have available to move over to the positive side of the scale.

For example, if the action is smoking 18 packs of cigarettes a day, the equal and opposite reaction would be a decrease in lung performance and overall health. If the action was chronic procrastination, the equal and opposite reaction would be decrease in quality of work and ultimately success or earning potential.

In case you were wondering, no we cannot create more coins. The system is closed and it is balanced. The coins cannot be created or destroyed, only allocated where we choose to put them. One side of the scale goes up, the other side goes down. Action, reaction.

Ideas for putting Newton’s 3rd Law to work for you

#1 – Take an inventory of your habits, behaviors, thoughts, etc.; both good and bad. Make a list of your “coins” on both sides of the scale.

#2 – Find a negative action that would be the easiest to remove or stop. Work on that one first. As soon as you have changed it, you will notice an increased benefit in the positive side of life.

#3 – Look for a new positive habit to start. Maybe setting effective daily goals, or jogging, or complimenting people. Start adding that to your life every day and soon you will find that you don’t have time for as much negative stuff.


Newton’s Law of Action and Reaction gives us an incredible insight into the balance and battle between the positive and negative in our life. The takeaway lesson from this law is that we should always look for ways to increase our good actions and habits. As you add more and more positive aspects to your life, the negatives will start to decrease without you even focusing on them. That is the magic of this natural law. If you focus on increasing the positives, you are forcing a decrease in the negatives.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on Newton’s Laws of Success. If you enjoyed these articles and would like to see more like them, leave me a message below or share them with your friends!



  1. Really enjoyed the 3 part series.

  2. Thank you, Kris! Very helpful!

  3. Thank you so much for these great positive reminders and tools for implementing them.

  4. Very Helpful! Thank You!

  5. This third part to this series was especially useful! Mahalo!

  6. I enjoy all your articles and will keep for future re-reading.Thank you and have a wonderful day!

  7. I love it when you come up with a way to think about something that I hadn’t thought of, nor have I ever stumbled onto it anywhere else. I love object lessons that contain real objects, probably from my days teaching sixth grade Sunday school. The lessons just stuck better when there was something the kids could put their hands on. This one hit me right between the eyes. Nice work, Kris!

  8. At least there is one other person who believes one can make a difference with positive energy. In communities either bring peoples together or isolate them. Kris thank you.

  9. I always love analogies of something tangible to something that isn’t. I think your series was excellent in that regard. Thanks for the insightful read.

  10. Thank you this really makes sense. I’m going to go and take inventory right now!

  11. Thank you , needing to look at my coins ( positive / negative) and time to create a better balance !
    Thank you

  12. Hi there, just read your article, quite interesting. But I want to ask, why are you are you thinking of your thoughts in a limited manner, hence 100 coins. What about the unconscious thoughts that are so many we can’t even imagine. And secondly, how did you end up interpreting ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ into ‘every action has a similar reaction’, hence adding to the first action which was positive. If nothing else if one action gets an equal and !opposite! reaction, a positive action would get a equal negative reaction in reply.
    So let me know how you concluded your ideas, as I don’t see Newton’s law apply to our favour here.

    • Alex,
      Thank you so much for your thoughts. We could all interpret it differently and I can definitely see your point. What I was trying to say is that an increase in the positive would lead to a decrease in the negative of equal proportion or magnitude. Let’s say that our expended energy is a closed system. The total amount of energy remains constant. Some of our energy is going to positive habits and some to negative. If we focus on increasing our successful habits, it would lead to a decrease in our negative habits of equal proportion.
      That is the idea I was shooting for and I’m sorry that I did not word it well enough. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention! I really appreciate it!


  13. thank you

  14. please help me see this differently. the way my brain is understanding this law is as follows:

    for every good (action) there is going to be and equal good (action) and (oposite reaction) bad…why would I want to use this law if bad is part of the equation?…please tell me, where is my thinking wrong in this?

  15. Kris, in that case, what modifications would you have made to the original message?, i rerally like the analogy btn newton and life and will like to get it right.

    • Thanks so much for reading the post and commenting. The way I intended it to be read is that for every increase in positive habits we form there is an equal decrease in negative habits. I feel that it is impossible to be simultaneously engaged in self-improvement and self-destruction at the same level. One will increase and the other will decrease. That is how I applied Newton here. I didn’t mean to imply that every good action creates a bad action. I just wanted to show that an increase in good actions causes a decrease in bad actions. Thanks!

  16. Excellent read! This similar principle has been very well applied in the trading world, notably in commodities. Visit http://www.3rdlawtrading.com or even google “3rd Law Trading”. Thanks for the article and keep up the good work!

  17. A+ . Iam trying.But, negative action are so addictive and adhisive that you don’t want to quite like, I don’t want someone to train me or advise me up close to make me positive.

Leave a Reply