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Acute and Chronic

I've written about the value of binaries before.

In this post, I'd like to share a binary that I've fallen in love with recently.

This one is typically spoken about in the world of health. More specifically, health-related issues.

As always, some definitions first (both of these are my personal favourites from Merriam-Webster):

Acute: Having a sudden onset, a sharp rise, and short course.

Chronic: Continuing or occurring again and again for a long time.

The reason I love binaries so much, is because they provide useful frames to look at patterns through.

When you're struggling with something in any domain of your life, asking the question of whether it's is an acute struggle or a chronic struggle is a very useful first question to ask.

An easy trap to fall into here—because we're bad at tracking our own data—is to mistake one of these states as the other.

Meaning, you think you have an acute problem, when in reality it's a chronic problem, and vice versa.

At this point in our little journey, I'd like to take a left turn.

Thus far I've framed this binary in a bit of a negative lens.

Just look at some of the words I've chosen: issues, struggling, problem.

What if we used the same binary, and viewed it through a positive lens.

I'll state it this way:

Life contains moments of acute happiness, and chronic happiness.

The acute moments are powerful, and can often stick in your mind for years.

The chronic moments are fleeting, and yet they make up most of moments of happiness that you experience.

When looked at through a positive lens, acute and chronic moments can be constructed. Whereas in the negative lens, acute and chronic moments are felt. It's proactive in one and reactive in the other.

The final thought I'd like to leave you with—and one which I promise to explore another time—is how acute and chronic moments relate to time and trajectory.

An acute moment has the power to change the trajectory of your life very quickly.

Chronic moments can do the same thing, they just need more time.

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