Path Of Least Resistance – Go With It, Or Overcome Your Comfort Zone

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?

Lots!

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:

photo of Lakes of the Clouds Hut from 1971

[ Read: Get Outside Into The Real World – Walk, Look, Listen ]

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17 Comments

  1. “Outside your comfort zone” defines my life, since my comfort zone is about 2 inches square. The hardest part about any new project is starting. Unfortunately, each project has multiple starting points, and each one is just as hard. So my progress comes in spurts, with periods of dithering, angsty hesitation in between. Each project does eventually get finished, and then I can move on to the next hard thing.

  2. Love that photo. Isn’t it interesting……..the higher you go, the more beautiful things are. I think there is a message there.

  3. Comfort zones expand and contract in response to our experiences, I think. Was injured by electricity when I was about five years old. Get me to get closer to it all these years later than changing a light bulb? Nope nope nope. Lost my retirement savings in the 1991 crash. Have pretty much stayed away from stocks since then. Never was much of a joiner and preferred my own company when young. Chose a career that was people all the time. Wasn’t so bad. Ended up in some crazy story-licious situations because I wasn’t afraid of anyone. Have the most eclectic group of friends now, something I never could have imagined before. Funny where life takes you if you let it.

    1. Anony Mee,
      Therein lies the rub. I you are not at your helm, someone else will be, and control your ship; oftentimes without your consent or awareness.

  4. At 80 yrs. old, my experience has been that whenever I took the ‘path of least resistance’, I later found out that, that was not the wisest choice. Too late I learned the truth of the saying “When you’re going through Hell, keep going”.

  5. I have to be honest…….with myself. Why do I take the path of least resistance when it comes to people and relationships? The answer is I am afraid. I am not afraid of being physically hurt. My work history, and the people that actually know me, will attest to that. Those people will tell you that I have a big heart. But….therein is the problem of my fear……my heart. I just can’t seem to overcome the fear (and hurt) of the loss of those I love. So….I continue to take the path of lease resistance and push people away. Yes, I love you folks….yes…..every last one of you……but you are not a threat to me as have not looked you in the eye. And I fear the day that might happen. I confront my fear daily… but I lose every time thus far. That, I guess, is why I love Jesus so much. HE will not abandon me, and I have faith that he will cut me loose of my fear in HIS good time. Till then, I will use you all as my crutch….my outlet. I am sorry to take up so much valuable space here this day. I blame Ken, and some of you, for pushing my buttons. Sorry.

    1. SS,,,,,,,,,,Garth Brooks did a song ,LEARNING TO LIVE AGAIN ,,,,,your not alone in what you feel , but there is life out there after the ??

  6. Just a thought, when you go beyond your comfort zone, that soon becomes your new comfort zone. Trekker Out

  7. Nearly everything in preparedness is outside the comfort zone. For those who do home canning, it’s easy right? Think about a newbie. Water bath, what? Pressure canning, huh? Elevation above sea level, what could that have to do with anything? Heat the lids in HOT water, check the seals, wipe the rim, on and on and on. There are many steps to every task. If ya haven’t done it before, it can be confusing or even overwhelming. After you’ve done it a while, it is within your comfort zone. Don’t even have to think about it. It’s simple, right?

    Many things like that: water filters, fire starters, blades, weapons, tools, comms, whatever. Don’t be SOOOO afraid of failing, you’re not willing to try. Just like with canning, there will be the occasional mistake, but it’s not the end of the world. Expand your comfort zone. How long has it been since you challenged your mind?

  8. All thoughtful comments. Especially appreciated the notion that what is out of the comfort zone, with time and experience, becomes a more expanded comfort zone.

    This past year has been so far out of my comfort zone, I can’t find it with binoculars. New growing climate, new neighborhood/people, the need to build new networks and AO familiarity, coping with wildfire incidents, and so much more. The things that have helped me not totally fold are my faith, and my children. I sometimes think I’m not supposed to get too comfortable with anything, as it can disappear in a heartbeat. A close relationship with my Father, and a focus on what I have to be grateful for, are what help me deal with the losses that happen. I guess these are more about a mental comfort zone, but for me that impacts everything else so much, including the physical.

  9. Sometimes the path of least resistance IS outside my comfort zone,, it seems like everything has to be so damn difficult and outside my comfort level pretty much all the time. It kinda sucks, just want easy for a change

    1. This comment pretty much nails it for me (us). I tell the better half to just assign one disaster at a time to me otherwise none of them get done. LOL

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