In response to the daily one-word prompt challenge being “static” here’s some piece of reflection on immobility and resistance, in which I will discuss :
- Walking the path of least resistance
- Being of the least resistance
Walking the path of least resistance
When we hear “path of least resistance”, we usually translate it into “the easiest, least painful way” that will present no obstacles, trouble, or adversity.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
“Easy peasy! Let’s take the path of least resistance in every freaking situation!”
In my opinion, there are times at which it is to be chosen, but not all times. Why?
- It’s probably not very fun.
- It’s not challenging.
- It won’t help us grow.
- Pushed to the extreme, it will turn you into a mollusc.
- It’s not always what is right.
Going for the easy option every time would eventually turn us into soft, unadventurous, placid, passive jellyfish that can only live floating comfortably and brainlessly in its usual tepid water.
Careful here. I’m not saying that the easiest path is always bad. If it can also lead to the best possible outcome, of course it’s a fantastic deal!
What I mean instead is that when two options will have approximately the same outcome, or their respective outcomes are equally acceptable, then why not choose the path of most resistance?
Let’s consider the following scenario:
Desired outcome: get to the fourth floor, on which we live.
- Take the elevator
- Take a helicopter
- Take the stairs.
Option 1: we wait for the elevator. It slightly annoys us because it seems like forever. We get in, it lifts us, we arrive at the destination.
Desired outcome: reached.
Gains: comfort and a couple seconds.
Losses: the opportunity to get some exercise.
Option 2: we pay a sh*tload of money to rent a helicopter, just because it is fancy. Get to your floor by annoying our neighbors with the noise. Have the pilot drop us on our balcony.
Desired outcome: reached.
Gains: you can say you’ve been in a helicopter.
Losses: our neighbors’ respect and our credit card.
Option 3: walk up the stairs.
Desired outcome: reached.
Gains: benefits for our weight and heart.
Losses: twenty calories and twenty seconds.
Whatever option we choose leads to the same outcome, with different advantages and disadvantages. If we eliminate the helicopter for being too unrealistic, if we think like everybody else on this planet we will find the the stairs to be the path of most resistance.
But is it? It depends on our conception. Resistance here is physical resistance to gravity, imply some effort that will pull us out of our comfortable bubble. And this is what most of us fear. But what if we consider the mental aspect of it? Waiting for the elevator to come and waiting for it to go up, not being free of movement. We could as well consider this as presenting some kind of resistance or difficulty. Maybe we’re slightly claustrophobic.
What I mean here is, choosing the path that drags us out of our comfort zone might lead to benefits that we wouldn’t have imagined and compensate for the “losses” well enough. We could find it nice to get the exercise the stairs offer. We could find it nice to have the elevator be a practice of our patience or of overcoming our claustrophobia.
Those little things will probably not kill us. Or should I say, the path of least resistance to which we’re the most used can kill us just as well. But at least, choosing the most uncomfortable option will lead to unexpected gains, better discipline, and a little bit of satisfaction and increase in confidence and self-esteem.
Being of the least resistance
Doesn’t necessarily mean being placid, passive, or soft. To me, it means more to tolerate things that we don’t have power over to be so, and stop fighting when it’s not necessary. It is compatible with walking the path of least resistance, since we can choose not to resist some things that are not worth resisting, and that will allow us to take the difficult path more peacefully.
I was first introduced to that idea when I was in high school and I took up aïkido for a couple years. Aïkido is a Japanese martial art that, as you may know, encourages you to use aggression towards you instead of responding with aggression too. It teaches you to offer the least resistance possible to turn any opponent or aggressor into a stone thrown in a pond. The pond barely offers any resistance, the stone splashes and sinks due to its own weight, and the surface of the water goes back to be as calm as it was within a couple minutes.
This philosophy can be applied to many aspects of our lives. It is, in my opinion, very similar to a stoic approach which would consider in not fighting physically or emotionally against things on which we have no control. Stop offering resistance to things and things will stop offering resistance to us.
It is also the mindset behind my cold exposure training. Stop fighting the cold and the cold will stop hurting.
I found out over the past couple months that not being stubbornly antagonizing anything I don’t feel comfortable about, not trying to avoid pain and discomfort at any cost, brought a lot more taste to my life. It also gave more confidence to cope with things, from the smallest inconvenience to the greatest adversity.
That is because I am trying to get rid of any feeling of anger when something I don’t like happens but I can’t do anything about it. I’m also trying to do more things that I used to find annoying or unpleasant. Cold showers and taking the stairs everywhere I go are part of it. Intermittent fasting is part of it. Stretching the parts of my body that hurt the most is part of it.
Practice keeping our mind and our emotions static when facing difficulties will be beneficial.
Try being of the least resistance, keep your mind immobile from time to time, and I guarantee you’ll feel better about a great deal of things in your life.
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