Leaving the Path of Least Resistance and Creating a Path to Happiness

Leaving the Path of Least Resistance and Creating a Path to Happiness

Whenever I draw a circle,
I immediately want to step out of it.

                                     -- R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER

Human beings follow the path of least resistance. This idea in action is seen in the habit patterns we follow in the course of our daily life. For example, your alarm clock goes off, as you reach for the snooze button, with your eyes closed, you think, "just five more minutes," and roll over. The next thing you know your alarm clock is beeping again. You get out of bed, your eyes are partially open as you go into the bathroom, pee, brush your teeth, turn on the shower, step into the shower and sigh as you feel the water against your body. This is a routine, a well-trod path.

Habit patterns provide a structure that enables us to easily perform routine things. The danger is we often continue with the habit pattern because we are used to it, even when it is no longer effective and satisfying.

In addition to habits in our actions, we have habit patterns of thoughts and words. We think and say them on automatic. The idea of taking a new path is to be awake to our patterns and create new pathways in our thoughts, words, and actions when the old ones no longer contribute to peace and happiness. Taking a new path awakens us more fully to the present moment.

How To Do It

DAY 1: Take a new path to the places you go.

Drive down a different road on your way to work. Take a bus instead of the car; park your car a few blocks from where you are going, and walk the rest of the way. Use the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Pick the kids up from school today rather than having them take the school bus. Play with this. Be creative.

DAY 2: Change the way you normally do things.

If you always brush your teeth before you shower, today take your toothbrush into the shower with you and brush your teeth in the shower. If you usually automatically turn on the radio when you are fixing breakfast, today leave the radio off, and listen to the sounds of your home in the morning. Are birds singing, are your kids laughing, is there an argument you can hear, what does the sound of running water sound like? Sit at a different place at your table. Experiment writing with your non-dominant hand. Sleep on the other side of the bed. Put your watch on the other wrist. Play with taking a new path.

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DAY 3: Do something different with what you wear.

Wear the sexy underwear you've been saving. Shave, or don't shave. Wear your hair down, if you usually wear it up. Wear a tie that makes you smile rather than the one you always wear with your corporate uniform. Paint your fingernails with the gold glitter nail polish that makes you smile when you see it on your daughter's fingernails. Wear no make-up for the day. Play. Enjoy. Take a new path.

DAY 4: Follow the path of your thoughts and think happy thoughts today.

When you notice that your thought patterns are taking you down a road that is hellish, have a new thought. Notice, when you put your mind to it, that you can turn lemon thoughts into refreshing lemonade.

Recently, as I was leaving a friend's house after having visited over a holiday weekend, he said to me, "Get ready for a long drive; you're going to get into a lot of holiday traffic." That's not the farewell idea that I wanted to be thinking as I began my journey home. I went over to him and said, "Imagine that I have an easy, smooth drive home and that I call and let you know that traffic was light and my drive was relaxing."

Having a new thought, creating a new pathway in our thinking is magical. Experiment. (And I did have an easy drive home. I even got on an earlier ferry!)

DAY 5: Create a new path in your life that opens the door wide to peace and happiness.

Here are some examples:

1. Signing up for a regular yoga class

2. Beginning each day with an inspirational reading

3. Enjoying the quiet of each morning by not automatically turning on the morning news

4. Taking a bubble bath before you go to sleep

5. Scheduling a regular massage

6. Writing an appreciation list of what you are grateful for before you go to sleep

7. Buying a subscription to your local theater program.

Let your heart be your guide as you create this new path in your life.

DAY 6: Do something you have been putting off or have been afraid to do.

Get your hair colored. Have a makeover at the make-up counter in your local department store. Get home before your wife, fill your bedroom with candles, and have a romantic dinner in bed. Audition for the play in your community theater. Join the choir. Wear a sexy outfit. Express your ideas at work. Talk to that person in the gym you think is so attractive.

DAY 7: Write your reflections about taking a new path.

1. What did you discover?

2. How can you use this idea in your daily life?

3. How does taking a new path illuminate peace and happiness?

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.
I am lost. . . . I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find my way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it's a habit . . . but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am. It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

                           -- PORTIA NELSON

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. ©2003.

Article Source

Choose Peace & Happiness: A 52-Week Guide
by Susyn Reeve.

Choose Peace & Happiness by Susyn ReeveSprung from a workshop Susyn Reeve developed and taught at Mount Sinai-NYU Health medical center in New York City after September 11, Choose Peace & Happiness is a year-long structured guide to help readers find peace and happiness in their everyday lives.

Info/Order this paperback book.

About the Author

Susyn ReeveSusyn Reeve is an ordained Interfaith Minister whose work includes organizational and personal development consulting with such organizations as NYU Medical Center, Mount Sinai Medical Center. The Plaza Hotel, Exxon, and UJA Federation. In her workshops, Susyn creates opportunities for people to identify, reconnect with, use and honor their natural resources-skills, talents, and abilities. She is co-founder of CelebrateSomebody.com. Visit her website at www.susynreeve.com.

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