Some Vicious and Virtuous Cycles

Recently, I discovered some vicious and some virtuous cycles of life. There is nothing radically new about them but it was stimulating to think about them in this manner.

From Wikipedia,

The terms virtuous circle and vicious circle (also referred to as virtuous cycle and vicious cycle) refer to complex chains of events that reinforce themselves through a feedback loop.[1] A virtuous circle has favorable results, while a vicious circle has detrimental results.

Both circles are complex chains of events with no tendency toward equilibrium (social, economic, ecological, etc.) – at least in the short run. Both systems of events have feedback loops in which each iteration of the cycle reinforces the previous one (positive feedback). These cycles will continue in the direction of their momentum until an external factor intervenes and breaks the cycle.

Some of the examples are detailed below.

  • What happens when one does not take care of maintaining a proper health? Assume that a person eats imbalanced diet and does not take time out for exercise. After some time, they will start to gain weight. Slowly, this additional weight will put more pressure on their back, and more importantly, on their knees. After gaining some weight consciousness, the person will start to do exercise for burning the extra fat. However, running or exercising with this extra weight will slowly damage their knees, thus disabling them to run. Since they can’t run, they will put on even more weight and the vicious cycle continues.
  • On the opposite side, if one sleeps better for many hours, they wake up fresh and are in a better position to do some exercise. A daily exercise routine will help them in sleeping better which again endows them with extra energy to do more exercise. The cycle proves to be quite virtuous.

Personally, I utilize this concept during the office hours. I take time off from the computer and mental work do some kind of physical exercise every hour or so. This exercise stimulates my mind and makes me focus better on my work. Again, more mental exertion forces me to take break again after an hour and enables me to thoroughly enjoy the exercise part, away from the chair and the screen. In a sense, they reinforce each other in a positive feedback manner.

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