Remember this statement for the rest of your life, it’ll serve you well:
“The Path of Least Resistance is the Path of Pain”
What does it mean and how will it help you?
It’s simple. After 30 yrs of life experience I have come to the conclusion that it’s an unbreakable law of nature that living for short-term pleasures means living for long-term pain. On the flip side, if you can overcome your desires for instant gratification and keep your eye on what you want in the long-term, you can have anything you want!
Caving into short-term desires is taking the path of least resistance. Having the mental toughness to say no is harder, but will give you long-term success and happiness. This requires STRENGTH. Let’s take a look at an example that we all know well.
If I want to transform the shape of size of my body, I must push against RESISTANCE. In doing so, I sculpt my body.
If I want to transform my life in any way, I must also push against RESISTANCE. In doing so, I sculpt my character.
What would happen if I took the path of least resistance here? NOTHING! I could skip my workout, or I could go to the gym and do a half-assed job. But since INTENSITY is the key to a productive workout, it would have no transformative effect on my body.
In life you can always just take the path of least resistance. Sure you’ll feel good in the short-term, but your life will suck and you’ll NEVER be able to accomplish anything worthwhile.
Check out some examples of this. In the left column is the area of life. In the middle is Path of Least Resistance, and in the right is the Path of Resistance.
- Finances | Living Beyond Your Means & Debt Vs Security & Possibly Even Wealth
- Physically | Tasty Food Anytime You like But Being Overweight & Unhealthy Vs Healthy, Vital, Lean, & Energetic
- Training | Optional & Easy With No Results Vs Mandatory, Hard, But Effective And Transformative!
- Relationships | Not Taking Time With The Most Important People Which Leads To Deterioration Vs Taking Time To Nurture Those Relationships, Which Causes Them To Further Grow & Flourish
You see, nature has set the game of life up beautifully in my opinion.
Just like your physical body grows in response to a high level of resistance, YOU grow as a person in response to overcoming resistance/challenges in your life.
Ultimately I believe that every problem has a purpose. As such then there are no problems, just challenges. A problem is a random obstacle that has unfortunately come your way. A challenge is meaningful and has purpose.
Think about it. If you were to overcome the challenges in your life right now, wouldn’t you have grown as a person as a result? I have no doubt that you would have. This is because nature would have required you to push outside of your comfort zone and forced you to enlarge your skills/abilities, or just become a bigger and better person.
Perhaps the purpose of life is to continually grow; to become more. If so, the game has been masterfully designed because there is no such thing as a challenge-free life. The trick is to understand and embrace the challenges in your life as opportunities for growth in disguise.
But doesn’t taking the more resistant path require self-discipline?
Yep! And that’s great too because discipline is freedom.
Discipline is often associated with a lack of freedom, but this is totally and utterly wrong. Discipline = Freedom.
If you have no sense of discipline, you can never really choose what you want for your life. For example, a guy wants to get rid of his gut and decides to do something about it. 2 weeks later after the motivation has worn off, he lacks the discipline to keep going until he reaches his goal. A person like this is going to be blown about by the winds of life for all his days. He simply doesn’t have what it takes to chart his own course in life.
In contrast, the person who has discipline can CHOOSE whatever he or she wishes for their life because they KNOW it’s going to happen sooner or later. How do they know? Because they JUST DON’T QUIT. This is total freedom. The freedom to master your own life and choose whatever it is you really want.
Developing discipline not only brings freedom, but a sense of accomplishment, confidence, equanimity, and happiness.
This is the total opposite of what you’re fooled into believing by taking the path of least resistance. You’d think you’d be happier by taking the easy option, but you never are. Allowing yourself to be seduced by the short-term pleasures of the world always ends in misery.
Losers always take the easy option. Winners NEVER take the path of least resistance. Step up!
I’ll leave you with a quote I love from Og Mandino,
“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy”
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Brilliantly said Mark….you have got real philosophical and deep here but this is just whats needed for most ppl. As a guy who cut down from 27% bodyfat to less than 9% (with your help of course) I think I know a thing or two about not taking that easy path. Thank you for all the amazing advice….I truly admire your dedication and how you help others! SO I urge everyone to join the resistance.
This is incredible stuff, Mark. And just what I needed to hear right now. I’ve been slacking off and taking the path of least resistance as you call it. And yes it’s gotten me down, not given me the relief I believed it would!! Thanks again 🙂
Couldn’t of said it better. Thanks for the inspiration Mark
@Darshan. I know you know all about this, buddy! If anyone hasn’t yet seen Darshan’s transformation, check it out here…
“Join the Resistance” I love it.
@Martin. Happy to help, mate.
@Nathaniel. Thanks 🙂
oh oh. gulp
For argument’s sake, I find the idea a tad oversimplified. Sometimes the path of least resistance is exactly the path to follow, sometimes resistance is just unnecessary and avoidable, or even detrimental to achieving a certain goal. Of course I do agree with the fact that going for instant gratification rarely leads to personal growth, be it mental, physical, financial, etc. And like you say, resistance is a mentality, not a fact. You can turn even the greatest life challenges into something good for you and others, just like you can make the tiniest problem into a debilitating disease. But I prefer another classification as winner/loser, namely goal oriented vs. process oriented people. If getting big and muscly is your goal, there are plenty of ways to get there really fast, without the need to actually learn HOW to do so. It’s like driving a car while focussing on your destination, not the road in front of you. When you want to get big and muscly, but appreciate the knowledge and effort required to get there, you can focus on just that – the process that gets you there, and concentrate on every rep, refining your knowledge as you make babysteps, leaving the results for what they are : reactions to the process. Which comes down to discipline : understanding that what you do never matters, only how you do it.
I do agree with you more than I disagree, and the message is an important one. I hope a lot of people read your post and change their lives for the better. Like Darshan says : join the resistance !
Well said, Mark. Now that you’ve made it clear that there’s a philosophical side to (successful) body-building, it seems foolish to think other-wise.
The purpose of life … that never ending question. If you see a painting, there must be a painter. If you hear a song, there must be a composer. If you have life, there must be a life-giver. The problem with Og Mandino’s philosophy is that it is self centered around ‘I’ – and doesn’t look to the one who created ‘I’. The purpose of life … is to have a relationship with the Creator – plain and simple – and let the Creator take it from there !
A wonderful article Mark, and why i enjoy MuscleHack!!! You only go through this life once, so you better GIVE IT YOUR BEST EVERYDAY!!!!
@ Scott…. Nothing wrong with having ‘I’ in a Quote or saying. Ex.. If ‘I’ am headed down the rapids in a boat towards a huge waterfall, ‘I’ am going to start rowing like a madman!!! ‘I’ believe my Creator would want me to do that and ‘I’ am not waiting on a verbal confirmation.
Thanks mark,i needed that
Hey Mark…This is my first comment ever in Muscle Hack. What you’ve put down is really great man. Its just the thing that many people need in their lives. I am sure this post of your’s will definitely make a change in everyone who reads it.
I remind myself that when things in life get tough, I must become tougher.
@Scott. Og was a religious man to my knowledge. His philosophy was very much geared at others and not self-centered at all.
@Mike Huber. Exactly!
@Jason. Another way I heard that put once was ‘it’s not the size of the problem, it’s the size of the man/woman’.
This was an excellent read Mark.
I’m one who hasn’t stopped or slacked in my training and I’m finally happy with all of my fitness, tho I would like to still get bigger but I’ll just carry on training as always, but this is exactly right and will prove right for anything not just fitness, cheers.
Basically I’ll start using this in other aspects of life, it’s all true.
I’ll look at problems as challenges 😛
BOHDAN, England, 19 YO
Thank you for the inspiration and perspective on goals. I will remember this when I’m tempted to give in to a short term temptation.
I wish this applied to dealing with stubborn women. No more challenge there, I give in to that resistance! 😉
Nice philosophy. Sounds very much like a leaf out of a book on the teachings of Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths. You reaching bodybuilding enlightenment…..? Don’t wait for me, but I’ll get there eventually……! 🙂
Great stuff Mark! I always believed in the concept and always practice it. You can always identify those that take that path of least resistance also, they’re usually the ones that try to beat down your efforts in some form of negative connotations. Great to be in the company of folks that think positive!!! As the saying goes, “you can’t fly with eagles in the company of turkeys”. 😉
Keep the positive flow comin’
@Bohdan. Good man. If you get this down at your age, you’ll have a fantastic future.
@Richard. Don’t know about enlightenment, but it’s a good way to live 🙂
@Mark. Yep. There’s that saying that you become the average of your 5 closest friends. So the company you keep is very important.
I followed your advice about taking some time off (I have some problems with low cortisol levels too so I must heal).
So I’m taking this week off, and eating at maintenance calories.
But I’m starting to notice that my muscle feel smaller, softer, and my abs are less toned than when I’m train them 2x per week.
Is it normal ? Am I losing muscle or gaining bf ? My weight hasn’t changed.
@Daydreamer. Is this your subjective “feeling” or are you taking an objective measurement somehow? I doubt anything has actually changed. All good workout programs recommend some time off now and then for full systemic recovery. Many people come back stronger after it.
Came back from last week off. Probably ate too much, but feel buffed.
Improved on a couple body parts, remained about same for others, which means “improved” because I was outside my POP.
I can worry this stuff to death. One must keep faith in what mark plans for us.