Much of our pain is caused by failing to heed the following rules of the road. Peace comes from recognizing what we can and should do, rather than what we “need” to have happen. It is not inaction as is pointed out, but taking the right action for the right reasons.
It goes by many names, “the law of least effort” and “going with the flow”, to name a couple, but the path of least resistance is a theme we hear about in many spiritual texts. At first glance, it may go against everything you have ever believed was true about following your dreams and achieving your goals. Is this concept actually implying that doing LESS work, putting in LESS effort will help us achieve things faster? Not exactly.
The path of least resistance does not suggest that you take NO action, but that you take PERFECT action. For example, the biggest thing we can observe applying the path of least resistance is nature. Everything in nature has a sole purpose, and 100% of the time, without fail, each thing in nature sticks to their purpose and therefore takes perfect action.
A tree grows towards the sun, takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen… always. A bee pollinates flowers, or makes honey…. always. You wouldn’t see a tree struggling to swim like a fish or a bear struggling to be like a cloud. Each thing knows its purpose and place in the grand scheme of things, so no effort is put forth into being something that doesn’t come naturally.
However, don’t worry if you don’t know what the “perfect” action is for your life. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for your evolution of consciousness. How do you know that this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.” Which means that every action is perfect, nothing ever goes wrong per se.
We create problems for ourselves when we sit in resistance of a situation, we believe in our heads that things should go a certain way and when they don’t go that way we are frustrated. Or when a situation has repeatedly shown us that things are not working out, we may continually try to force what we believe to be the way things should go on people, places or things only to be disappointed over and over.
The greatest thing about the flow of our lives is that it is always trying to push us forward. We create dams and blockages for ourselves by our limited belief systems. So how do we know if we are following the flow or going against it? Here is path of least resistance checklist to help you out:
1. Am I listening to my thoughts about a situation or my body’s cues?
Your thoughts will lie to you. They will tell you eating a quart of ice cream is a good idea & then after you do it, they will tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself. Your body-mind cannot lie, it’s the tension you feel in your body when you are around certain people, the upset stomach you get when you are in a stressful situation, the tightness in your chest you get when someone or something makes you uneasy, etc… When you pay attention to your bodies cues instead of your thoughts you can decipher which situations make you FEEL good which will guide you only to things that are ultimately going to make you more fulfilled and happier.
2. Do I accept situations as they are or do I find myself wishing people/places/things would change to meet my expectations?
There are going to be things in life we cannot change. We can’t change who is in our family, we can’t change the past, we can’t change the way another person behaves. When we learn to see the difference between which things in our life we can change vs. which things in our life are unchangeable, we learn the power of acceptance. Also we empower ourselves to change things in our life that make us unhappy, and accept the situations that we can do nothing about. When we accept things we cannot change, we allow ourselves inner peace because we are not living in the how we think things “should be”, and instead are living in the how things are.
3. Am I motivated by fear or love
When love is behind our actions we will know it. We will feel good and happy and joyful when we are engaged in those activities. Fear is tricky, because many times it will disguise itself as love. For example, a person may stay in an unhealthy relationship too long under the guise of “but I love him/her.” Even though they know they are unhappy and the other person is as well, the fear of not wanting to be alone outshines the love they should be showing to themselves.
When we switch our motivation to love we naturally attract situations to us that make us feel good. Being in love with life will help us progress with the forward flow of life more quickly than staying in unhealthy situations a little too long.
4. Am I too attached to the “how” something will happen instead of the “what” I want to happen?
This is a huge one. Our ego/thoughts are always trying to make sense of everything, so when we choose a specific goal that we are trying to work towards our mind automatically starts coming up with a plan of how it is going to happen. And if a goal sounds too unreachable your mind may also tell you to forget about it, it’s not going to happen. These types of thoughts create roadblocks in our path, because if we don’t believe it is achievable, it won’t be. When we follow the path of least resistance here we open ourselves up to limitless possibilities, instead of closing ourselves in to exactly how we believe things should happen.
5. Can I find purpose in my day to day existence?
It doesn’t matter if you are a garbage man or a stay at home mom… every job has a purpose. When the perspective of our job is how much we hate it we are in resistance all day long. No it does not mean to work at a job that is unfulfilling your entire life, what it means is that for the time being, while you have to work where you work, enjoy it.
Focus on all the ways what you do helps people, or makes them happier, or makes their life easier. When you see your job in these terms, the day flows faster, because we are happier and sitting in acceptance. Not only that, but when we are happy we attract to us more opportunities…which may eventually lead us to our dream job. When we go with the flow of our life instead of against it our life runs more smoothly, and progresses more quickly.
And the great thing is that it’s never too late to start following the path of least resistance. In fact, it’s probably the easiest thing you can do because you do what comes naturally instead of forcing things to go how you think they should. This path opens us up to the intelligence of the universe instead of the “intelligence” coming from our own ideas and thoughts, which means we become open to the limitless potential that exists in the universe… which can be an amazing thing as long as we allow it.