Why You Should Go Looking For Pain

Our mind will naturally follow the path of least resistance. If you have picked up a cookie the last three times you walked past a plate of them, you will not have to worry about deciding on the fourth, your hand will do all the decision making for you. This is how I came to eat a half box of cream puffs on my birthday while playing Mario Kart with some friends. 

Pick one of the following categories to consider: finances, logical though, diet, relationships, parenting, home organization, education, work, etc. Whichever category you picked, think about your habits in that area. Do you just do it the way you've always done it, or is that a painful category for you right now? I hope it's the latter, because if you never experience pain in an area then you are probably giving in to the law of least resistance. Thus, me and cream puffs. Or me and finances and nickel and dining myself to death on coffee and tacos and gourmet hot dogs outside my office in the summers. And No pain, no gain is only half the story. Likely it's something more like No pain, then probably losing ground. 

Of course not all pain is a sign that you are resisting least resistance. But you are smart enough to figure out which kind of pain is which. Exercise is painful. Saying no to tacos and cream puffs is painful. The point is that there is a type of pain we should go looking for that is a sign that we are changing for the better. All good change involves this type of pain. We should learn to be excited to find it.

I won't pretend I am hardcore about this. I don't wake up at 5 every morning to work on my killer abs—they just naturally come out that way. I sometimes allow myself great swaths of least resistance. We are not machines, and there is a good reason why our brain acts this way that shouldn't be eliminated entirely. But I try to remember that during these times I shouldn't be deluded into believing that I am making the best decisions. Any good decisions I am automatically making are payouts from pain filled investments I've made (or have been forced to make) in the past. 

But it's not all about pain. In the long run resisting least resistance will make you feel better, but it is an act of delayed gratification. The mornings that I exercise and take a cold shower are miserable until I am done, and then they are the best mornings and best days after that. And the more I do them the more my brain makes me do them out of habit. 

So the key to avoiding the law of least resistance is to go looking for the pain your brain so desperately wants to avoid. You don't have to love it—it's just a piece of evidence that you might be moving beyond cruise control.