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The Path of Least Resistance

December 20, 2012

The Path of Least Resistance

One thing we all seem to have in common is a strong desire to live happier, healthier lives. And we could all use a mental or behavioral makeover now and again, because no matter who you are or what you do, there’s always room for improvement. The problem often arises when we try to put our desire for betterment into action. In learning theory this is called transfer. It’s where the rubber meets the road and where the trouble almost always begins.

One of the primary reasons that we have so much difficulty creating change in our lives is that we have an innate tendency to take the path of least resistance, the easiest route containing the least amount of obstacles.

One of the easiest ways to observe this phenomenon is to simply pour some water at the top of a hill and watch it run down the side. It will dart back and forth, avoiding all obstructions as it finds the quickest and easiest way to the bottom. A similar thing happens to people too.

For example, let’s say you have an ongoing issue with your significant other.

Every time you try to talk to him about it, he gets angry and defensive, which upsets you, so you back off. The result of consistently backing off is that the issue is never resolved, because in order to avoid the conflict, you always take the path of least resistance.The same thing is true if the issue is something health-related like weight loss, for example. In this situation, even though you want to lose weight and eat healthier, you may seriously struggle with the emotional discomfort of denying yourself the foods you want.

I’ve studied and monitored this issue of dieting discomfort for more than 20 years with my Inner Diet program, and it’s a serious impediment to about 72% of the dieting public.

Here’s the kicker: The only way to avoid this unsettling psychological discomfort is to give in to the desire to eat – the path of least resistance.

The downside of this natural tendency is stagnation and a continuation of the status quo. So if you want to bring a healthy or positive change into your life, you have to push back against your innate tendency to avoid the discomfort that accompanies change. In other words, you must resist taking the easy road and resist the strong pull of habit.

Habit keeps you tied to old thoughts and behaviors in much the same way that gravity keeps your feet planted firmly on the ground. Just think about that for a moment and then try this little experiment with me: Stand up and then jump up in the air a few inches and see what happens. Of course, you come right back down quickly because of the powerful force of gravity. Well, habit draws you back to old behaviors in a similar way that gravity pulls you right back to earth!So my message to you today begins by asking you to think about the unhealthy paths you travel each day. And I don’t literally mean the physical roads and highways you drive on. Just as water will consistently find the easiest path down the side of a hill, well entrenched, unhealthy habits and repetitive negative thinking take you down the path of least resistance.

If you want to make progress on your goal or start living a healthier life, stop taking the well worn path of least resistance and begin taking the road less traveled.

Wishing You Great Health, Dr. John H. Sklare


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