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Comfort Zones

Virtually every day, I get some reminder about how much better it would be for me (and others) if I were to venture outside of my comfort zone. There are countless articles on the benefits to our health, attitude, and personal growth, and this offers motivation to take action. Take a risk. Don’t worry about the stress; after all, we are told it is “healthy” stress.

I, like most people, enjoy feeling comfortable. I like routines and predictability in certain parts of my life. But I also love surprises and traveling along the roads not often taken. It is a balancing act for me–finding comfort and familiarity without boredom. Generally, that is a low-stress, low-anxiety setting, and when I really think about it, being a bit uncomfortable can wake me up, prod me to push harder, explore what I have avoided, question what I have taken for granted, go a bit deeper, and achieve goals I thought were out of my reach. The funny and surprising thing is that once I do the uncomfortable, challenging thing, it is easier to do it again, and then, by purposefully and intentionally putting myself in those situations, I succeed AND I fail. I learn more about myself, what I can do, what I will accept, and what I can change. All of these experiences are now a part of my “weave,” and as with fabric, each individual thread may not be my favorite color, but together, as part of a whole, they are rich, beautiful, and uniquely mine.

Sometimes I will do something because someone else wants me to do it. I might not have done it on my own, or even cared to, but the shared experience is worth the risk and my discomfort. I notice that when I do things that may be viewed as “risky” or “inappropriate” or “embarrassing” or “silly” or “beyond my pay grade,” I am usually more content. How can a person be open to life’s experiences if their internal brakes are always on, and they are consistently worried about what other people will think? I have learned the value of expanding my world. The more we learn to embrace the experiences we once thought were frightening or impossible, the more likely we will be to enjoy our lives and those of our loved ones. The uncomfortable challenges are suddenly on a smaller island it is now easier to swim toward, and it is there we can learn and give something new. I not only have greater control over time and my assets, but I have more, mentally and physically, to contribute to the world.

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