Should you take the path of least resistance?
The path of least resistance is the physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity among a set of alternative paths (Wikipedia definition). The concept is often used to describe why an object or entity takes a given path. Energy moves down the path of least resistance in the environment it finds itself, be it electricity through a circuit or water in a river. Just look at the way water runs downhill; it will always find the path that allows it to flow in the easiest way possible.
Take the path of least resistance, be like water
Bruce Lee’s legacy as a martial artist, movie star, and deep thinker remains very much alive today; there is so much we can learn from him, still.
There was a point during his training when Bruce Lee became frustrated with his lack of progress. He was working hard but didn’t see any improvement. His Master knew the problem was that he was trying too hard.
“Preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature, never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it”.Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee took his boat out on the lake for some quiet time. He pondered over what his master told him but its true significance eluded him. He punched the water in anger and frustration and something happened, he came to a sudden realization and everything became crystal clear.
“BE LIKE WATER. Don’t get set into one form, adapt it, build your own and let it grow. When you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. In order to control myself, I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. BE LIKE WATER. The nature of water is so fine that it is impossible to grasp a handful of it. Strike it, yet it does not suffer hurt. Stab it and it is not wounded. Sever it, yet it is not divided. It has no shape of its own but molds itself to the receptacle that contains it. BE LIKE WATER. When water is heated it turns into steam, it is invisible, but it has enough power to split the Earth itself. When frozen it crystallizes into a mighty rock. First, it is turbulent like the Niagara Falls then calm like a spring on a hot summer day. BE LIKE WATER.”Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee understood that the path of least resistance is to be just like water. Don’t go against your own nature, let it flow and use it to your advantage. Martial artists learn to preserve their own energy while turning the force used by their opponent against them.
To learn the path of least resistance, observe nature.
Observing nature is a wonderful way to experience how this concept of taking the path of least resistance works. Everything in nature has its own purpose. A tree grows towards the sun, takes carbon dioxide, and releases oxygen. Take a leaf during fall, the dying leaf does not resist the natural circle of life, it bursts with magnificent beauty in the grand finale before its death, living space for winter to settle in. With spring new leaves will burst into life in an onslaught of colors. Everything follows its natural course. Human nature is no different.
“We should learn from nature. See how everything gets accomplished and how the miracle of life unfolds without dissatisfaction or unhappiness”Eckart Tolle
We humans like to think that we are in control and we can determine the course of our life. In reality, much of what happens is outside of our control. Our impact at times is much less than we imagine and other times, it is greater than we think. Imagine being in a canoe, the current of a swift river will be the primary reason our canoe is moving steadily downstream, rather than our paddling power. The conditions in which we live change consistently, and more often than not we move transported by the changes in our environment rather than by our own choices. Take the year 2020, if we could wave a magic wand and make it disappear into the ether, we would not hesitate to do just that, except that we can’t. As unpleasant as it has been, we have no choice but to go with the flow.
There is a natural flow to the reality of every situation we experience which epitomizes the path of least resistance. This is why living our truths and aligning ourselves with our life purpose is the way to go. Sadly, we lose our ability to follow our natural path as we grow into adults. When children become adults, they lose their sense of wonder, their spontaneity, and their ability to dream. Being an adult often means that we adapt ourselves to the way the world wants us to be rather than the way we want to be. We avoid confrontations, we forget who we are and what we want in order to fit in. We take the path of least resistance, but this time, this path is not the one that will take us to the place we really want to go.
We have to be vigilant because sometimes the path of least resistance disguises itself as the right path when it is sometimes the wrong one. Do not equate the path of least resistance with the easiest path to follow. Sometimes, we make choices based on what is easiest, most pleasant, or least painful. In doing this we may gain short-term comfort but long-term pain. It is easier and more comfortable to sit in front of the TV than go to a fitness class. It is easier to lose our temper than control it. It is easier to eat cake and ice cream rather than kale. In those instances, taking the path of least resistance is an option, but it is not the option that helps us grow or become the best version of ourselves. You can’t get fit by sitting on your sofa eating dessert, you have to drag yourself to the gym and start lifting weights. Without the resistance of a barbell, muscles don’t grow.
To experience the path of least resistance, be like a seed
There is energy attached to whatever situation we are experiencing in our life, we have to pay attention and use our internal compass to be able to sense the energy of the situation in order to act accordingly. Our environment is much like a field in which we plant a seed. Depending on the ground and the type of environment where you plant a seed, some seeds will grow well, and others won’t. The seeds that are planted in a nourishing environment, full of good nutrients will grow. We won’t see the results straight away, but over the years the seed to grow into a mature tree.
In the same regard, we must learn to treat our minds just like a garden. We must ensure that weeds and unwanted plants are not robbing and stealing the nutrients that are needed for the tree to grow and bear fruits.
“Your mind is a garden. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”
Obstacles that we encounter in our life are just like weeds, it drains us. Our first impulse would be to go around the obstacles and avoid it at all costs, but some issues cannot be avoided forever, they won’t go away until you deal with them. It is always better to kill the monster when it is small. Sometimes, following the path of least resistance by going around the obstacle may not be the best way forward.
Shall we follow the path of least resistance? Yes and no. It depends on the situation. You have to be alert and aware of the energy around you to decide what’s the best way forward. But whatever the situation, remember BE LIKE WATER.
And this my dear friend, is your Quest.
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