I’m currently reading “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins. I’d seen the book floating around out there, but it didn’t interest me much. I thought it was just another “military guy has a rough time of it but succeeds in the end” kind of book. Yeah, they can be inspiring, but they don’t always have a whole lot of original, actionable material.
Then I came across this comment on Reddit, which pointed me to this video, which convinced me to find a copy of the book, read a few pages, and buy it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the book. I’m about a quarter of the way in, and it’s fucking fantastic. But this article isn’t about that.
This article is about a single idea that I picked up in the video.
The idea of taking the Path of Most Resistance.
Normally, we hear and talk about the path of least resistance. It’s how water and electricity move. We design aqueducts and wire homes to take advantage of this.
Human beings default to the path of least resistance as well. I really like the idea that it’s an evolutionary trait – we aren’t lazy, we’re just conserving energy because who knows when a lion or that asshole from the other tribe is gonna leap out from the bushes? You better be ready.
In order to conserve that energy, we design our lives to take advantage of this property.
This isn’t a bad idea. Simplifying is a great example of taking the path of least resistance – get all of that crap out of your life so that you can focus on what really matters.
The problem we have now is that we’ve created lives that are so easy when compared to the lives that the majority of people lived just a hundred years ago, it’s almost laughable.
Not that people don’t have problems. When everything is difficult, *of course* you should take the path of lease resistance. You don’t need to train for life when every day is a constant struggle for survival – the race itself is the training.
But that’s not what (most of) our lives are like right now. Most of the people in the society we live in (I’m assuming you have at least a few creature comforts if you are reading this) have an essentially zero chance of being surprised by a mountain lion, and a very small chance of being physically attacked by a member of another tribe in the in the near future.
“Wait a minute, buddy. You obviously don’t live in my neighborhood if you think that I only have a ‘very small chance’ of being physically attacked.”
Right. But it’s not going to happen *constantly*, unless you live in a literal war zone. So even in a “bad neighborhood” situation, how much time do you think you need to rest, and how many calories do you need to pack on (without immediately using them properly) to be ready?
Not as much or as many as we are, that’s for sure.
We relax. We “conserve energy.” We consume mass amounts of readily available calories because our caveperson brains think that it may be the last time that we see food. Then we get mesmerized by the media that convinces us just how dangerous the world is, repeating the cycle. And to satisfy the need we have for adventure, we live our lives through our screens, watching others do the things that we want to do instead of doing it ourselves.
And it’s killing us.
Taking The Path Most Resistance, whenever possible, is a solution. Start taking it. On purpose. When you don’t have to. Whether it’s connected to a major goal or not.
It will make you stronger.
That’s why people go to the gym or hit the trails for a run. To get stronger. We don’t have to. We do it in order to feel better, in order to look better, in order to be able to say “Yeah, I can do that.”
Make your life your gym. Take the path of most resistance as often as you can.
Of course that dish in the sink isn’t going to hurt anything by being there. Rinse it out and put in the dishwasher anyway.
Of course it’s more reasonable to drive the mile to the grocery store. Why waste your energy walking and carrying the stuff back?
What’s the point of talking to that attractive person and asking them out, when you know you are going to get shot down?
It isn’t only about getting the sink clean or taking care of the shopping or being in a relationship with a particular person.
It’s about your ability to get shit done that needs to get done. And the more you can make getting shit done a habit, the more shit you’ll get done. And maybe (maybe!) you’ll have a clean sink, a well stocked fridge, and your dream partner in the process.
Take the path of most resistance more frequently today. It doesn’t have to be be huge at first. When you feel fear, discomfort, or laziness when facing the prospect of doing something that you want or need to do, recognize that this is path of most resistance. And take it.