For years scientists have been fascinated by the invisible structure we tend to reside in called our comfort zone. This is a behavioral space that we, as human beings, naturally seek, where we feel safe and protected from anxiety, worry, fear, danger, risk, etc. It is a safe haven of sorts, but it actually can do more harm than good.
While your comfort zone is a stress-free place of stability and routine, it is also a place with minimal risk and limited potential for growth, which can inhibit you from living the life you’ve always dreamed of as the best possible version of yourself. Learning to get comfortable outside the lines of your comfort zone will enable you to harness your creativity, increase your productivity, and solidify your adaptability in a world that is constantly changing.
We can use exercise as an example to show the positive effects of challenging yourself and pushing your boundaries. If we want a stronger bicep, we push ourselves with “stressful” weight. If we want a stronger heart, we don’t sit on the couch; we have to “stress” it with cardio. This “healthy stress” is what is found on the edge of our comfort zone. When we push our limits, we automatically enter into new territory where we find the greatest opportunities for growth.
The courage required to step outside of our comfort zone follows the same growth process as any muscle or skill: we have to work at it. The more you actively make choices to live outside of your comfort zone, the more capable you will be to continue choosing this bold approach to life when the opportunity presents itself.
This is why I take a cold shower every morning. I want to start training my nervous system to do something different—to force myself out of my comfort zone right away. Here are a few more things you can do :
- Take an alternate route to work.
- Ask for 10% off for a coffee at your favorite coffee shop (this is one of our personal favorites—you may get a weird look, but 50% of the time you’ll actually get the discount! You can’t tell the person what you’re doing either.).
- Fast for extended hours.
- Say YES to things you normally wouldn’t say yes too.
- Go to a different grocery store, park, or restaurant (We build these habits, and if we don’t consciously make new decisions, we keep firing the same neural patterns and neural networks. Research shows that if we don’t consciously make those changes by the time we hit our forties, 90-95% of what we do is all subconscious programming: doing the same thing we did yesterday, with the same thoughts, the same people, the same route, the same emotions.).
- Talk to someone you would normally NEVER talk to.
- Talk to someone who’s mean or intimidating or rude and give him or her a SINCERE compliment. Speak love and light into their life.
- Hug a stranger.
- Go to lunch by yourself, or go to lunch/sit with a group you wouldn’t normally sit with if you always eat by yourself.
- Ask for a raise.
Life outside of your comfort zone does not mean life lived without fear—it means life lived with the ability to acknowledge the existence of fear and respond with brave vulnerability and an open mind. It means taking ownership of your life and giving yourself the freedom to expand your ability to respond to fear and the unexpected in a positive way. That is living an empowered life, and that is what we wish for you.
In gratitude and good health,
Matt & Monica