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The Path of Least Resistance March 31, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

220px-Lightning_striking_the_Eiffel_Tower_-_NOAAH.G. Wells said, “The path of least resistance is the path of the loser.”

Many who buy into the antiquated Puritan Work Ethic agree with Wells.

I do not.

When we follow our heart, we follow the path of least resistance.  We enjoy what we do and do it joyously.

Our enthusiasm spurs us forward and we accomplish more than when we take a more resistant path and “burn out” while beating our head against the brick walls we encounter.

When we take the path of least resistance, we walk around boulders, rather than trying to chisel away at them.

Instead of wasting time and energy to accomplish impossible feats, we skip down the path of least resistance, kicking the pebbles we encounter to the side of the road.

Life should be more than a series of stressful moments strung together ad infinitum.  Life should be a joyous journey of adventure and discovery.

Here’s to enjoying the journey . . . along the path of least resistance.

Quotes to Ponder: 

No man is a failure who is enjoying life. ~ William Feather

I would rather be a failure at something I love to do, than a success at something I don’t. ~ George Burns

Success comes not from what we do, it comes from who we are.

I’ve never liked the quote, “Good guys finish last,” because it implies that greed, and power, and arrogance will get you to the finish line first . . . but that’s not the finish line that I’m aiming for.

When we stop clinging to ego attachments, we lighten our load and learn who we truly are. ~ Lama Surya Das

How refreshing the whinny of a pack horse fully unloaded! ~ Classic Haiku

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you agree with Wells?

Have you accomplished more on the path of least resistance . . . or by battling windmills?

Related posts:  Spiritual Milestones *  Our Internal Compass * Our Field Of Dreams * A Beacon in the Dark * Meditation 101 * The Inner Path to Peace * You’re Getting Warmer * My GPS Has An Attitude (Jeanne’s Blog) * Thanks, God


1. SuziCate - March 31, 2011

My favorite is this one “Success comes not from what we do, it comes from who we are.” I think our success can only be defined by us and no one else has the right to place that judgment on another. Here’s to every step of the way on the path!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I agree. If we are enjoying life, we win. No matter what happens . . . we win.

2. jeanne - March 31, 2011

I couldn’t agree with you more. I am on my path of least resistance and I love it. Content but not complacent!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I remember in high school being urged to abandon baby sitting in order to get a “real job.” When I explained that I earned enough from baby sitting AND enjoyed myself, they pushed me to do more:

You’ll never get ahead in life if . . . .

Who is it that I’m supposed to “get ahead of” in order to be considered a success? 🙂

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 31, 2011

I like the quotes, and I probably agree with you on this, but I think once again that we have a semantical problem. “Resistance” to me does not necessarily mean head-banging, brick walls, road blocks and impossible tasks. To me the intent of the axiom is to learn not to shy away from things that might seem daunting at first blush, but to persevere through the rough patches. The “Road Less Traveled” is often the most beautiful, and leads to the most wonderful places – even though there might be thorns along the way. Resistance does not mean, IMHO, that you cannot derive enjoyment in the process. As a matter of fact, I am most happy when facing a challenge. I would much rather find a way to climb over a boulder than to just walk along kicking pebbles out of the way. Doesn’t seem like much fiun to me. But, I also believe that “whatever floats your boat” proverb. We all have to arrive at our destinations in our own way!

Another good, thought-provoking post, Nancy! Thank you!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

There are many ways to interpret the word resistance, of course. But when we are on the right path, doors open for us that would not have opened for anyone else. The Universe is behind us, assisting our efforts to meet necessary challenges.

In my experience, when we meet too much resistance, it may mean that we’re heading the wrong way. 🙂

Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 31, 2011

It is indeed – especially at certain times in our lives – that breezing through challenges is wonderful. For my own self, however, I find that working my way yields far more valuable lessons learned than the path of least resistance. Besides, like I said, I enjoy the “pushing” part of it – most times. If I find myself pushing and not enjoying the struggle, then I almost always back off and seek another route, feeling that I have received a message to turn around and pursue a different avenue to my goal, or whatever.

If photography came easily to me, I would not enjoy it nearly as much as I do, and these days I am rather consumed with it! (I’ll be telling everybody why very soon!) It gives me such pleasure to figure things out, even when it is frustrating – but like I said, that’s just me! 😀

4. viviankirkfield - March 31, 2011

Thank you Nancy! What a wonderful post about a subject we ALL struggle with. I love your quotes…here’s another that epitomizes my philosophy on life…although I know we need to set goals and strive to reach our potential…and there are obstacles on the road of life that we can’t always go around but do have to climb over sometimes…”happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want”.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I agree. Trying to avoid all obstacles would be impossible and is unnecessary. If we want to learn and grow, we must encounter challenges and overcome them.

Boats are safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.

Taking Darwin as an example ~ his family pushed him toward a career in medicine. He hated it. They pushed him to succeed on a career path that was not RIGHT for him.

Once he followed his heart, the embraced the challenges on his path . . . because he was headed in the right direction.

5. Carol Ann Hoel - March 31, 2011

Sometimes moving an obstacle may be worthwhile, but surely we should pick our battles. Why fight just to fight. Sometimes obstacles are not meant to be moved but to change our direction. I prefer open doors to closed doors. I believe God wants us to live fulfilled lives. Drudgery is not necessary. We were meant to enjoy what we do and live life abundantly. Not to say we will not have troubles. I’m sure you know we will. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Excellent point, Carol Ann. When we follow our hearts, we are filled with enthusiasm and feel fulfilled, even if there are obstacles and challenges to meet and conquer.

6. Baxter Bunny - March 31, 2011

The path of least resistance is NOT the path of a loser! What if you’re doing what you love to do and even though it’s hard, you’re liking every minute of it?! I agree with you!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I agree. If we’re doing what we love, the challenges are all part of the fun.

7. adeeyoyo - March 31, 2011

I have always equated the ‘path of least resistance’ as being the opposite of the moral path, e.g. if your friends are drug- or drink-enslaved. But I can see your interpretation of it too, Nancy, and that is also how I feel. That which excites and challenges us is what we are meant to do – our passion!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I expect that H.G. Wells intended that when he referred to the path of least resistance, but the more I listen to my heart, the less resistance I encounter on the path . . . so I interpreted it another way.

Our purpose is to discover our purpose and pursue it with passion.

8. oldancestor - March 31, 2011

Very Taoist of you, Hatch.

Like many of your posts, this one can be interpreted on practical and philosphical levels. Like PTC said above, I’m not sure Wells was encouraging us to slog through life and enjoy a daily grind we can never escape (I believe that was Mother Teresa’s advice, actually).

I agree wholeheartedly, though, that most of us meet with resistance because we are trying to forge the wrong path. I am convinced that working 50 hours a week, like I do, is not the way I should be spending my flash of existence on earth. I’m working on a way around it. We’ll see if I’m successful.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Good for you. Too many people spend their life on the road more traveled . . . when they take the road less traveled (i.e., the path of least resistance), the road is a bit less bumpy and far more enjoyable.

9. Rosa - March 31, 2011

My mother has always told me ‘don’t get good at something you don’t like doing!’ I think if we are to overcome obstacles and resistance, it may as well be on a path that points us where we want to go! Thanks for another great post Nancy!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Thanks, Rosa. Your mom was wise! When I wanted to stop practicing law, everyone said “but you’re so good at it.” When I told them I wasn’t happy, they didn’t see the relevance.

To me, we should do what makes us happy . . . not do something we dislike just because we are good at it.

10. 1959duke - March 31, 2011

Reading the previous post its interesting to see the different perspectives. People will sit in judgement and there is nothing you can do about that. Then you reach a point in life that you are forced to make a new path whether you like it or not.

nrhatch - April 2, 2011

When we feel RESISTANCE to the path we are on, it may be Spirit whispering, “You’re going the WRONG way.”

11. nancycurteman - March 31, 2011

I always try the path of least resistance first. Then, if it doesn’t work for me, I move on the next least difficult path and keep going until I find one that works for me.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Smart lady! Going to law school was “hard work” but I loved every minute of it. It was filled with challenges, but I enjoyed meeting them. To me, it was the “path of least resistance” because I was doing exactly what I needed to do . . . at that time.

Then, after 13 years as an attorney, it was no longer the “right” path to be on. My heart urged me to take another path . . . which has made me far happier.

I suppose, in some ways, H.G. Wells was right . . . continuing to practice law would perhaps have been the path of least resistance at that point ~ it was far more challenging to shift gears and forge a new road. 😀

12. Debra - March 31, 2011

I think also…that resistance for some may not be for others. Yet…a pebble is easier for me to kick out of the way than stubbing my toe on boulders…which I have done.

I am for finding the trueness of me. And the trueness of me is not found in 50-55 hours weeks which I was doing (nods to Old Ancestor for their success in the work-around).

good post again Nancy!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

One year, at New Year’s, a very Type A friend wanted me to set conventional goals. I told her my goal was simple . . . to enjoy the journey. That frustrated her to no end ~ she insisted that I HAD TO SET MEASURABLE GOALS if I wanted to SUCCEED in life.

I ignored her . . . and here I am 13 years later, still enjoying the journey. And I’m NOT standing on the bread line. 😀

13. souldipper - March 31, 2011

Nancy, this is fabulous! In my work life, I took the motto “work smarter, not harder” and didn’t fall into the trap of workaholism. (I know…I just invented the word – not the condition, thanks be!)

An old gent who became a multi-millionaire making cardboard boxes (!) told me his advice: Never do a job you don’t like. I asked how making boxes stayed interesting. His answer, “I simply made it interesting. There’s room for creativity in every single thing you do.”

I found that to be true.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

I agree. Often taking the path of least resistance is working “smarter” not harder. We follow the shortcuts whispered to us by our hearts and get where WE want to be faster than someone who follows more conventional pathways to “success.”

When we are absolutely determined to enjoy what we do, we win! No matter what happens, we win.

14. Debra - March 31, 2011

hey just found this quote….
What To Do Today – Remind yourself that work isn’t the source of happiness. You attitude toward your work, not the task itself comes first.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Excellent. Thanks, Debra. No one dies wishing they had put in more 60 hour work weeks. 😀

15. Tilly Bud - March 31, 2011

i think it fepends what we are resisting.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Well, I take Wells’ comment to mean that taking “the easy way out” is for losers. That’s what I disagree with.

Sometimes the “easy way out” is the best way to go.

16. jelillie - March 31, 2011

You know I have found that when I begin striving with something if I back off for a little while, let the pot simmer a bit, the “work” I was working so hard at evaporates leaving me to walk freely down the path. “The path of least resistance” often arrives to take over the worrisome way an hour after we sit down to rest.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 31, 2011

How interesting, jelillie! My ftaher taught me that technique when I was a little girl, but he called it “back-burnering.” He used it in conjunction with solving the NYT crossword puzzles. (I started as a very little girl, sitting i n his lap an “kibbutzing” as he solved them – which he did every day. I’ve continued doing the same thing, but unfortunately I haven’t so far at least, convinced any of our sons to follow in the path.

Generally, I think most people know the answers, but pushing too hard- to the point of frustration – is not the way to come up with the answer. Putting it out of your conscious mind, and placing it on the “back burner,” lets your subconscious do the work, and the answer often pops up out of the blue! Fun!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

That’s definitely been my experience.

If I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall and doing nothing more than giving myself a headache . . . I take a different tack and the “path of least resistance” usually appears. 😀

17. barb19 - March 31, 2011

Life is pitted with obstacles and challenges, it’s how we handle them that matters, and as Paula says, we shouldn’t push too hard; things seem to sort themselves out eventually anyway.
Don’t worry – be happy!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

That’s it! If we are happy, we are on the path of least resistance. We’re in the flow.

If we’re constantly stressed out and frustrated, we’re probably not on OUR path of least resistance.

18. Penny - March 31, 2011

The “Road Less Traveled” is often the most road traveled, but I love challenges and the excitement of new adventures.
“Path of least resistance” is ok for awhile, but the fun of traveling down the unknown paths, leads to meeting new challenges, and that is what I do best. I find it intriguing discovering these new challenges down these unknown paths.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Me too! The path of least resistance, to me, doesn’t mean climbing into a rut and staying there . . . it means following our hearts to discover new challenges that APPEAL TO US by wandering down unknown paths.

In uncertainty lies all possibility.

19. libraryscene - March 31, 2011

you been reading my mind?? I actually was contemplating a blog post similar in nature today as I ponder a venture back to school… Appreciated thoughts!

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Do it! I’d love to read your thoughts on following the path of your dreams.

20. carldagostino - March 31, 2011

I would not condemn the past of least resistance if it is a joyous matter. But if playing the violin is a joy, for example, there is no easy path because it will be hard work and that draws the Puritan work ethic back into the course of the path. Another one of life’s paradoxes I suppose.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

The Puritans felt that life should be a sacrifice. That people should put their nose to the grindstone and not expect to feel joy. They frowned at laughter and mirth.

Playing the guitar is a joy for me ~ learning to play it required focus, but not sacrifice. In that sense, it was the path of least resistance. It required hours of practice to learn the chords and songs I wanted to play but I enjoyed the JOURNEY.

Playing the TUBA would have been a sacrifice for me ~ because it wasn’t the instrument that I WANTED to play. Learning to play the tuba would NOT have been the path of least resistance because neither the JOURNEY nor the DESTINATION (of becoming proficient) interested me in the least.

carldagostino - April 1, 2011

Well reasoned.

21. kateshrewsday - April 1, 2011

I’m surprised at Wells. How competitive!

nrhatch - April 1, 2011

It rubbed me the wrong way because of his choice of the word “loser” ~ I translated that to mean that there are winners and losers in life. That, if you get a BIGGER piece of the pie, you win . . . even if it’s more than you need or want. I don’t agree with that notion. Sometimes LESS is MORE.

BUT after seeing the differing nuances attributed to “the path of least resistance” in this comment thread . . . I’m wonderfing if I even know what H.G. Wells meant. 😀

22. M. Howalt - April 1, 2011

For me, I think it depends on the kind of resistance. If it is a mental resistance telling you that one is not good enough to be doing something (eg. a creative endeavour), then I agree with Wells that if it is something that one really wants to do, it’s worth a try. On the other hand, if it’s a matter of frantically hanging on to something even though it aggravates one, then I agree with you. Hmm … I hope that made sense. 🙂

nrhatch - April 1, 2011

M. ~ It does make sense and I’m beginning to think that I don’t disagree with Wells at all.

What if he meant . . .

Going into the family business and doing what everyone else wants you to do = “the path of least resistance” because that’s the path everyone else is pushing you down. If you take that path to please others -> LOSER!

If that’s what he meant, then I agree with him.

But that’s not the way I read it initially because to me “the path of least resistance” is the one that BECKONS ME forward. I feel no resistance in my gut to moving forward and taking on new challenges, etc.

I know that I will enjoy the JOURNEY, even if I never reach the DESITNATION I’m headed for. And that makes me a WINNER!

I’ll have to see if I can find the quote in context to see how he defines “the path of least resistance.”

M. Howalt - April 3, 2011

I’m glad it did. 🙂
That’s exactly what I meant, and I agree with you; it probably is a matter of context.

nrhatch - April 3, 2011

I’m going to check right now and see if I can find when and where he made the statement.

nrhatch - April 3, 2011

I think that Wells used it to mean “taking the easy way out” or “being lazy.” That’s not really what I mean by the path of least resistance.

To me, the path of least resistance is the path that we are meant to follow. We will face challenges . . . but they are the challenges that we NEED to face, not just a bunch of “busy work” designed to impress others.

The path of least resistance is also the avoidance of soap operas and daily dramas and worrying about things that may never come to pass.

M. Howalt - April 5, 2011

Thank you! That makes a lot of sense.

23. Sandra Bell Kirchman - April 1, 2011

My mentor said, “If you are happy more days than not, you are most likely doing what you came to do. If you are unhappy more days that not, then you need to move a little to the left, or right, or up, or down, until you are happy.” Dr. Coll also said, “Doing what you came to do will make you happy.”

I believe we all have a life purpose that we know innately. When we hit the path that keeps us on our life purpose, we enjoy the journey immensely. We get divine help to follow that path. That is our success.

I know this and believe it. But right now I am having trouble with my path and I can’t seem to find the path of least resistance. Posts like yours, Nancy, talk to my feelings. They reassure me that, no matter what, everything will be all right. It makes it easier for me to look for my path again.

Thank you.

nrhatch - April 2, 2011

You’re welcome, Sandra. And I think that you’ve summed up my experience nicely.

I did not stop practicing law because it was “too hard.” I left my career as a litigator because it was a NEGATIVE in my life. It DETRACTED from my happiness and peace of mind and prevented me from being the best “ME” I could be.

We don’t have to have jobs that we LOVE every minute . . . but if they are making us unhappy, a course correction is probably needed.

24. eof737 - April 3, 2011

I concur… the path of ease is the path of the wise… that old adage of no pain, no gain, went out with the 1980s shoulder pad. 🙂
Finally catching up after taking time out to handle offline stuff. 🙂

nrhatch - April 3, 2011

Living in the moment, and going with the flow of spontaneous impulses, tends to reveal those activities which will offer the greater “return” on our investment.

Be Here Now. 😀

25. tomo - July 26, 2011

I made myself miserable taking the path of least resistance; I was wasting my potential, and forgoing my dreams because I told myself it was “too hard” or “impossible” to realize them. Only when I go against this nature do I seem to accomplish things I am proud of and happy about.

nrhatch - July 26, 2011

Glad that you are on the right path for you. 😀

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27. livelytwist - July 29, 2015

I think it depends on what H.G. Wells meant and what you mean. I take his quote to mean deliberately choosing the easy way out to avoid challenges. For example, someone may not follow their heart because the path ahead that they can see seems too difficult.

I understand what you are saying to mean that when we follow our heart, the path, no matter what it contains- challenges, etc, becomes one of least resistance, because our enthusiasm or passion spurs us forward.

Sometimes it takes courage to follow your heart. Thanks for making me think. 🙂

nrhatch - July 29, 2015

My pleasure. It does depend on how you interpret the quote. I wrote the post because I felt that H.G. Wells was a bit too cavalier with the label “LOSER.”

When we feel RESISTANCE to the path we are on, it may be Spirit whispering, “You’re going the WRONG way.”

livelytwist - July 29, 2015

@Spirit, true.

nrhatch - July 29, 2015

Thanks for making me think about this some more. When I feel intuitive resistance to doing something, I heed the advice.

For example, after taking 2 weeks off to think about whether I wanted to switch gears and “leave the law,” I walked into my office and heard my heart go THUNK!

As my secretary was busy telling me how happy she was that I was back, I felt IMMENSE resistance to the idea of being back ~ a sick feeling in my gut that this was no longer the right path for me. I turned to my secretary and said, “I’m not staying.”

H.G.Wells might characterize my decision to leave the law as a “failure” and he might refer to me as a “loser.”

I would disagree. What does HE know about ME?

I’m the ONLY one who sees the complete picture of my life.

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