Use the Law of Least Effort to Manage Stress

June 29, 2019
The law of least effort to manage stress is a reminder that sometimes less is more. Let your reality flow, save energy, and focus your attention on things that truly matter.

The law of least effort to manage stress can be very useful. It’s a very simple resource from Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of SuccessAccording to his approach, human beings should follow a life path that allows them to save energy, live calmly, and connect with themselves.

The “law of least effort” may make you think about several other ideas. You might think about the people who do only the fundamental things they need to move forward in life. But the idea we’re talking about today has nothing to do with doing only the necessary. 

The approach we’re going to look at today has a lot to do with psychology, even if it’s about spirituality. The law of least effort helps people focus on what truly matters, set their priorities straight, get rid of useless habits, and focus in the here and now.

“Wherever you go in the midst of movement and activity, carry your stillness within you. Then, the chaotic movement around you will never over-shadow your access to the reservoir of creativity, the field of pure potentiality.”

-Deepak Chopra-

A lotus flower.

The Key Points of the Law of Least Effort to Manage Stress

Among the seven spiritual laws of success according to Deepak Chopra, the fourth one is the law of least effort. In order to understand how it transcends and the way it can help you manage stress, it’s worth thinking about this: visualize the natural world; everything that happens in it seems to occur without any visible effort, like it’s ruled by inertia.

Everything’s spontaneous, suffering is only residual. The wind moves fallen leaves, flowers bloom, the river slithers between rocks and splits in different streams. Nature is balance; it’s a world that flows by its own rhythm and cycle. But human beings often get stuck in a routine and in very limiting ideas. You create your own personal jail by submitting yourself to a routine of worry that only leads you to suffer.

Don’t Push It, Let Yourself Go

Letting yourself go doesn’t mean getting lost. The law of least effort to manage stress suggests you practice the following:

  • You may invest too much effort and energy in goals and people that contribute nothing to your life. In fact, they sometimes make you worry instead of making you feel good. Try to work on things that are worth your time and effort.
  • Also, you sometimes may fixate on forcing certain things into your life that only make you tired. You work hard, for example, to get promoted at your job or to be more likable. You’re investing time, motivation, and even your health in goals that aren’t always right for you, which ends up making you more anxious. Aim to set goals that will make you happy in the long run.

Whatever your reality looks like, the best choice is to let yourself go. In fact, you can better understand this idea with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Basically, it’s about not forcing anything into your life. Set aside what causes suffering and look for inspiration, be receptive of anything around you, get in touch with yourself, and invest your energy in another type of productivity: the one that helps you achieve well-being and satisfaction.

A man standing in a field learning to use the law of least effort.

Acceptance: A Fundamental Aspect of the Law of Least Effort

The second main point in the law of least effort to manage stress is acceptance. A way to reduce pressure, worry, tension, and anxiety is accepting what you can’t change. In your day to day life, you get to be part of an endless number of realities: facts, dynamics, and people with whom you don’t get along or don’t agree with.

Assume that not everything can be under your control and be conscious that there will always be projects that could’ve turned out better and a balance that could’ve been more stable. If you take the step, you’ll find peace.

However, always remember that acceptance isn’t the same as giving up. Acceptance is actually understanding that there are realities that are different from yours. Therefore, it’s best to accept the facts and keep investing in yourself. Learn to coexist with the dissonance between your actions, values, desires, and aspirations.

Only You Are Responsible for Your Life

As you learn to accept things the way they are, you’ll discover a new revelation: only you are responsible for your life. Once you understand that everyone is free to choose their own path in life, how they behave and think, you’ll realize that you also have that power. But it’s a power that requires great responsibility.

You’re completely entitled to live your life as you please. You’re free to detach from what doesn’t define you, from the things you don’t like or that make you suffer. But you’re also responsible for every choice you make in that process.

In fact, it’s no longer valid to complain or to make other people responsible for what happens to you, because only you define your fate. Think about it. Try to use the law of least effort correctly to manage stress every day.

  • Chopra, Deepak (1994) Las siete leyes espirituales del éxito. Edaf
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2011) Fluir (Flow): Una psicología de la felicidad. Kairós