The Law of Least Effort is an age-old philosophy. It states that there’s a flow to everything in life. If we practice the Law of Least Effort, we can achieve things without too much effort or undue stress. Struggling against it causes struggle and pain. (Estimated reading time: 5 minutes)
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”— Lao Tzu
Have you ever wanted something so badly you couldn’t get it off your mind? Whether it was a person, an opportunity, or something tangible, the pursuit of getting it may have consumed you.
No matter what you did or how hard you tried, it remained out of your reach, and at some point, you might have asked yourself, “what am I doing wrong?”
Based on the principle of the Law of Least Effort, it’s not that you were not doing enough, but that you were doing too much, and hurting your chances of success in the process.
The Law of Least effort is an age-old philosophy with roots in several traditions. Deepak Chopra popularized it in his book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”
The law states that there’s a flow to everything in life—if we can accept and align ourselves with this natural intelligence, we can achieve things without too much effort or undue stress. Struggling against it causes resistance, which slows down progress and creates pain.
The Law of Least Effort is often difficult for people to accept because our success-oriented culture is deeply rooted in the idea that we accomplish more only when we push ourselves and work harder. The credo of “do less and accomplish more” can feel alien and counterproductive.
Everything operates based on a balance of action and inaction, which makes it especially important to practice the Law of Least Effort. The masculine, action-oriented energies of “Yang” must be balanced with the passive energies of “Yin”. Control mechanisms like ambition, precision, and planning are vital, but we should know when to take a step back and allow things to unfold naturally.
Wu Wei, a practice based on the philosophy of Taoism, refers to letting go of control and harmonizing our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the rhythms, both from within and outside our bodies. It’s a dance that’s synchronized with the ebb and flow of life.
Although Wu Wei translates to “effortless action,” and “inaction,” it’s not a free pass to rest on your laurels and do nothing, nor does it mean submitting to your fate. Wu Wei is a mindset that optimizes your efforts to flow with the natural current, rather than against it. It’s a form of dynamic action that involves aligning with the present instead of dismissing or denying it.
Like a sailor at sea, you adjust your sails to catch the wind at the right angle. You tune in and recognize the direction of the wind and act accordingly. Harnessing the natural forces of the wind gives you that extra push to maneuver your boat toward your chosen destination and practice the Law of Least Effort.
The Law of Least Effort works for us when our awareness aligns with nature’s intelligence, which functions spontaneously and holistically. You’ll see this co-creative process play out everywhere in the natural world. Birds fly, fish swim, and seeds sprout because it’s in their nature to do so.
Similarly, humans can manifest things if they get out of their own way and let nature take its course. Things fall into place when we let go of rigid expectations and embrace our natural inclinations. Getting into that flow and peak state means disconnecting from our ego, the part of us that wants control and steers us away from accepting the present moment.
I recognize that I’m not living in flow if I find myself getting stressed out from not seeing results. Instead of pressing on, I use the lulls as opportunities to pull back and rest. I allow the space for natural forces to intervene and give form and shape to whatever I’ve been working on.
What I learned from applying Law of Least Effort is that it requires a nuanced recognition of the threshold where taking further action sabotages your labors. At that point, it is in your best interests to back off and leverage natural forces to move you along further.
Based on Chopra’s book, there are three components to the Law of Least Effort:
1. Acceptance: You make a commitment to accept people, situations, and events as they are, in the moment. No matter how challenging, you let go of resistance to what is, and remind yourself that everything in the moment is as it should be. You accept what happens and move forward.
2. Responsibility: Once you accept your circumstances, you take responsibility for them by coming up with creative responses. Responsibility involves not taking the blame, nor placing it on others, and using the incident as an opportunity to transform and improve yourself and those affected by it.
3. Defenselessness: Let go of the need to control everything and defend your point of view. Surrender control and remain open to where the road leads you. Rigidly holding onto expectations and the need to persuade wastes energy and magnifies fear and resistance.
To fully embody these principles, you need to get into the right headspace. Here are three ways to practice the Law of Least Effort and accomplish more in everyday life:
1. Spend time in nature: Observing nature connects you with the rhythm of the natural forces. You get a visceral experience of what it means to be in flow with the natural order of things.
2. Have a spiritual practice: Letting go of the steering wheel of life requires trust. A regular spiritual practice strengthens that trust and helps us have faith during the tough times. Traditional practices such as prayer, meditation, and repeating affirmations work great, but be open to other activities like journaling, tarot and oracle card readings, and EFT.
3. Engage in the arts and creative pursuits: Acceptance and surrender become easier when our emotions aren’t tied to an outcome. When we engage in creative pursuits, we get into a state of creative flow which frees up our emotions. In this state, we lose track of time and enter another realm of consciousness where creation happens. This is the place of manifestation.
Making the effort to practice the Law of Least Effort is an act of trust – trust that no matter what happens to you, it’s for your highest good. Even awful events can hold significance because they contain lessons that are vital to your growth. Trust that you live in a conscious universe governed by an intelligent force that’s always guiding you. All you need to do is listen and be open to it.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Have you seen the Law of Least Effort play out in your life? What was your state of mind when it occurred?
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