I am reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. And I come across the following saying that I do not quite understand.

They are page 71.

They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior.
Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us.

Could you please explain the meaning of circumstances, conditions and conditioning in the above?


  • 3
    What is it you don't understand? We could spit the dictionary definitions back at you, but I assume you would have done that before coming here... right? May 19, 2014 at 15:42
  • yes, I looked them up in the www.m-w.com. and the definitions for them are confusing. what is the difference between circumstances and conditions. And conditioning has a different meaning from circumstances, what the author is gonna to convey when he says conditioning and conditions. Sorry that, I am not a native speaker.
    – Alex
    May 19, 2014 at 15:50
  • It would help if you edited the question to include what you found and specifically what you did not understand.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 19, 2014 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


Circumstances and conditions are very similar, but not identical in this context:

Circumstances- "The situation that I'm in": the things that exist that have an affect upon me: "I'm weak", "I'm poor", "I'm unemployed".

Conditions- "The status of things around me": Like the weather outside, the things that exist in the broader world that have an effect on my situation: "It's a bad time to start a business", "Nobody can afford this kind of product right now.."

Finally, conditioning is in the classic sense of learned psychological response, "how I've been trained or ingrained to react to external events"

To re-write his sentence (albeit less elegantly ) "They don't blame the unique circumstances that they personally are in, they don't blame the conditions in the world around around them, and they don't blame "the events that have taught them to behave a certain way..."


Bob's answer was to lengthy for me here ya go

axiom - a position that is known as certain (100%)

postulate - a position that is held to a certain degree of certainty ( may be 1% to 99%)

circumstances - axioms in direct correlation to observed object

conditions - postulates that may be in direct correlation in with the observed object

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