The conservation of energy is important to all living things. Generally speaking, animals are more likely to take the path of least resistance when confronted with a problem. Leopards run after the slowest gazelle in the herd, rather than the fastest, because it’s easier to catch. Buffalos wade at the closest watering hole, rather than the farthest, because it requires less walking. Humans, likewise, will always look for solutions that cost the least amount of energy. Unfortunately, this often leads to their downfall.
The allure of the magic bullet
In keeping with the law of conservation of energy, every human being faced with a problem has an innate desire to find an answer that requires minimal work on their part. Work is difficult. It demands time and effort. Furthermore, results are not guaranteed. The default mindset in life is to shun intense amounts of physical and mental labor, almost as if there is a mechanism inside the brain that causes feelings of repulsion when faced with an arduous task. This is why many people get gym memberships for their New Year’s resolutions, yet quickly quit when they get a taste of the long road that awaits them. They would rather buy the product on TV that advertises six-pack abs in six minutes.
The problem with the magic bullet
There is no problem with quick-fixes per se, but they are only effective in satisfying biological needs. Animals such as leopards and buffalos are almost exclusively run by the desire to eat, sleep and procreate. They don’t have any higher aspirations or goals. They don’t have any notion of transcendence. Hence, it is entirely appropriate that they seek the path of least resistance. Humans, however, are a special kind of animal. People do not only wish to survive but thrive. Civilizations are built not on the law of conservation of energy, but its exact opposite; individuals burn themselves out, even kill themselves at times, just to attain abstract ambitions like truth, justice, beauty or love.
Pushing outside your boundaries
Stepping outside your comfort zone is the antithesis of being sedentary. It is easy to know when you have ventured outside your usual boundaries. There is a feeling of anxiety, of not knowing your way around the territory, and of being involved in something strange and alien. When you move outside your boundaries, you willingly place yourself in a situation that forces you to adapt and grow. Here, psychological development takes place, because the body is being pressured by unknown forces.
However, note that going outside your comfort zone is a choice. Unlike eating or drinking, it is not a matter of life and death. In fact, many people who stay inside their cozy bubble of familiarity survive just fine. They live in the same place, work the same job, and entertain themselves in the same way day in and day out. They are rarely challenged, and they don’t challenge themselves either. Although common, this way of life can hardly be labelled inspiring. When poet Henry David Thoreau uttered his famous line “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, perhaps he had this sort of lifestyle in mind.
Don’t settle for anything less
It’s entirely too easy to become stuck in a rut, especially when it’s not necessarily life-threatening. Unless their lives are in real jeopardy, people rarely take any action. This puts them on the same level as any other animal. Only a person who really seeks to push himself to the limit can truly be labelled a human being. Others may have the genetic material to classify as one, but their laziness exposes them as mere posers. They have the potential to transcend nature but lack the will to act on it. By continuously challenging yourself and never settling for less, you will quickly rise through the ranks of your chosen endeavor, and society will reward and idolize you for it.
Band-Aids are not cures but masks
Band-Aids may be appropriate for minor cuts, but they do nothing to heal the deep wounds inside every person, the wounds that urge him to rise above his status in life and reach unimaginable heights. Your body will always direct you to seek out quick-fixes, which makes it all the more important to resist this urge. After all, you wouldn’t want a doctor to operate on you knowing that he cut corners in medical school. You owe it to yourself and to society to be your best, and only by embracing the unknown can you make this happen. Now, roll up your sleeves and start working hard.