What is the path of least resistance? In the human realm, you might say it’s “the thing, option, or course of action that is easiest to do; that which avoids confrontation, difficulty, awkwardness, or tension.”
In the physical realm, you might say it’s “the pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths.”
The concept is often used to describe why an object or entity takes a given path. The way in which water flows is often given as an example for the idea. An approximation of the tendency to the least energy state. Other examples are “what goes up must come down” (gravity) and “heat goes from hot to cold” (second law of thermodynamics).
Today, I’m going to talk about how it may apply to us. Humans.
Outside Your Comfort Zone – Overcome The Path Of Least Resistance
We as humans will often take the path of least resistance – literally, and emotionally.
We will walk the straightest line to where we’re going. Will do ‘it’ the easiest way, or the same way we’ve always done it before. And we will typically do the least amount of work possible to achieve a goal or requirement.
Is this hindering the way many of us experience real life to the fullest? I think so…
Is this a right or wrong thing? No, it’s just an exercise in food for thought…
Certainly there are times when following the path of least resistance is wise. Times when conflict or confrontation is not the best option, as one example.
We often choose the path of least resistance on an emotional level. To avoid conflict, difficult decisions, feeling awkward, things or situations that are uncomfortable, or even to avoid confrontation or disagreement.
When we follow the path of least resistance (physically or emotionally), without even realizing it we are restricting ourselves to fewer outlooks. A smaller view, and a narrow mind. Our efforts at creativity, exploration, or “thinking outside the box” are hindered by automatically doing something the apparent easiest way.
This way of thinking (following the path of least resistance) can lead to stagnation. Even bad decisions can be made by not having fully explored or understood something, It may lead to missed opportunities in life.
Break out of your comfort zone.
Most of us are NOT comfortable doing things that we are not familiar with (me included).
Our perceived comfort zone is based on our memories of things we’ve done before. The things that we know, or know how to do. We instinctively will gravitate back to what we know, rather than exerting new energy towards exploring other options. New options or alternatives.
Think of it logically —
We would not be comfortable with doing something- had we not at some point in our life overcome the path of least resistance. When we first did those things (created those experiences), they were new to us then. We probably were not comfortable doing it at first. But then those experiences became part of us – our new normal. We grew.
(Not saying that all new experiences are uncomfortable or challenging. But referring to those things which you feel in your gut to be uncomfortable or challenging)
So it’s the same thing going forward in life. While we get older and become more “set in our ways”, it becomes more difficult to overcome the path of least resistance. Why? Because we have built up quite a comfortable cocoon and comfort zone around us.
Break out of your comfort zone. Try something new.
So, what does this have to do with survival and preparedness?
Tie-in with preparedness
To even begin to realize and understand the risks that are around us, we must overcome the path of least resistance in our thinking and our actions. Especially our thinking! Our normalcy bias.
It is NOT comfortable to consider that there are REAL risks all around us (visible and invisible). And that we ought to be better prepared to deal with them…
It’s NOT comfortable to consider that we are bombarded and programmed 24/7 from external sources telling us how and what to think. And that most people have many significant deep biases as a result.
It is not easy to become “prepared” (being preparedness-minded) without thinking outside the box yourself. Outside your comfort zone. Overcoming your normalcy bias and the path of least resistance.
Whenever you face a challenge – something that is uncomfortable to deal with – consider pushing yourself through the mental barriers. You can overcome your angst, and learn or do a new ‘thing’.
Be willing to be uncomfortable.
Your life begins outside your comfort zone.
Many of your good memories are (and will be) from those times outside your comfort zone when you stepped outside your box. When you overcame the path of least resistance.
For example, about the photo above:
“Lakes of the Clouds Hut” of the Appalachian Mountain Club, near the summit of Mt. Washington (New Hampshire) – an overnight destination for hikers along the Appalachian trail or those simply hiking the Presidential Range. The photo was taken many decades ago during 1971 (I was just a kid then!) on a hike with my brother and dad – outside our comfort zone… From the original scanned slide, I had doctored it up into a nice jpg.
Higher resolution photo: