Don’t Take The Path of Least Resistance

Welcome to the human condition. We tend to do that which is easiest, often to the neglect of that which is best. The brain’s natural impulse is to take the easy route almost all the time until you think and act otherwise. This isn’t unique to just humans. In fact, most things take the path of least resistance: water, electricity, light etc.

According to research, we’re wired to take the path of least resistance. ‘Our brain tricks us into believing the low-hanging fruit really is the ripest,’ says Dr Nobuhiro Hagura, who led the UCL team during the research.

‘We found that not only does the cost to act influence people’s behaviour, but it even changes what we think we see.’

‘The tendency to avoid the effortful decision remained even when we asked people to switch to expressing their decision verbally, instead of pushing on the handles,’ Dr Hagura said.

It’s easier to sit in front of the TV than to spend time reading books about becoming a better version of yourself.

It’s easier to read about starting your life’s project, than taking even the smallest step to launch meaningful work. The path of least resistance is the safest, most comfortable and easiest path we can take.

Mark Markman of 99u explains:

Without realizing it, we instantly and automatically categorize every situation we see based on our previous experience. So, despite our best efforts to do something bold and new, our memory drives us back to things tried and true. Our efforts at creativity are thwarted before they get on track.

You can’t improve significantly in life or create anything unique or different if you can’t stretch beyond your safe zone. Opportunity rewards people who step outside their comfort zone. Einstein couldn’t have said it any better: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If you just keep doing things the same way over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results. If you don’t like the results you’re getting, take a new path. I can’t promise it will be easy. But it’s worth it. You will be better off than everyone else who isn’t trying.

Following the path of least resistance can become a habit. We make choices based on what is easiest, most pleasant, or least painful.

The life we seek isn’t found by avoiding pain and staying safe. It comes from contentment in knowing you’ve pushed the limit and you’re doing exactly what you have to do be better — regardless of the pain.

Only against resistance in our lives can we grow and move forward!

It doesn’t mean every decision you take has to be the tough one. It means the path of least resistance shouldn’t be our default basis for making decisions and taken action.

Don’t choose to be average

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance…If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself–expanding and learning as you go–your choosing a numb existence. Your denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” — Dean Karnazes

The average person is bored and complacent. Stuck working a job they hate. Struggling to pay for things they think they have to have but can’t afford. The average person takes the safe path, because that’s what the average advice suggests. Then they get the average outcome.

The average outcome sucks!

Don’t play it safe your whole life. Many people obey all the rules and take comfort in security. They do what every everyone else is doing. They take but can’t be bothered to create or give. But following the herd is the quickest route to an average life.

The most successful people you admire didn’t don’t follow the path of least resistance, they welcome challenge and adversity. They see every obstacle as a set up for a come back.

Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance says, “If you limit your choice only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”

Get comfortable with discomfort

“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something others are unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone.” — Seth Godin

The secret to success lies in the very thing you’re avoiding. Those things that seem to break you down and humble your spirit. Seek out discomfort. Be deliberate about doing things that push your limits magnificently.

Difficulty helps us to grow. If you want long-term success, stop avoiding what’s hard,and embrace it now. If you’re truly pushing yourself to improve — in any capacity whatsoever — you are uncomfortable.

When you are challenged, you are asked to become more than you were. That means creating new perspectives, acquiring new skills and pushing boundaries. In other words you have to expand your understanding in order to be able to overcome the obstacles facing you.

If everything is too good, you’re probably stuck not being awesome.

Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can ever have to live a truly fulfilling life. If you learn this skill, you can master pretty much anything.

Pamela Madsen, author or “Shameless” explains:

I don’t think that staying with discomfort comes naturally. And finding ways to be with your discomfort is an essential skill for staying in the race. Any personal growth usually involves some kind of ability to stay with feelings of discomfort.
Let’s face it. If you are a seeker of any kind you will push boundaries. When we reach for personal transformation and start pushing edges and boundaries in our lives — we meet “the big work” and feelings of discomfort and wanting to flee from change surface.

The first step in overcoming the path of least resistance:

Break the chain of easy routines. Read a book you normally ignore. Find Listen to music from an unfamiliar composer.

Attend that conference you’ve been ignoring. Begin that difficult conversation with your colleague at work.

Don’t hang out with the same people who share your tastes, beliefs, and outlook. Get to know someone from a different background.

Spending your time with people who agree with you is pleasant, but bad for your creativity. Find people who approach life and work in a radically different way than you do and exchange ideas. These experiences will help you see the world in a new way.

Stepping up when it’s annoying or painful or draining builds character. Be good at making time for what matters to you — especially when you don’t feel like it. Don’t always take the path of least resistance.

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