We have this cultural obsession with chasing happiness.
And, on top of that, we are also obsessed with shielding ourselves from anything that triggers us.
We have this idea that any challenge we face is a mistake of fate; however, this mentality is actually weakening us mentally. What our culture has forgotten is that adversity is important for our growth, and shielding ourselves from adversity is what makes us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, panic, and chaos.
For me, exercise is a metaphor for life. It reminds me that I crave overcoming obstacles, and it takes “leaning in” to do so. I am covered in sore muscles from my training yesterday, but happy for discovering movements I never thought possible at 36, and after becoming a mother. You see, what most people don’t tell you is adversity makes you creative. It activates parts of you that lie dormant, it makes life interesting again, and it makes our curiosity rise up.
Part of the human narrative, and part of what makes our lives so fulfilling, is wanting something to overcome. The trick is keeping it in balance; for example, choosing to exit your comfort zone and ensure pain for a worthy cause.
Embracing the dirt and grit of it all was what we were made for. We just have to lean in and start living.
The question so many ask is how do we lean into living and get outside our comfort zones?
Let us first understand why we call it a comfort zone. It is a place we know, and where we feel at home. It does not matter if it is a positive place or a not-so-positive place to be; we know the ins and outs, and we know how to complete the daily tasks with an idea of what is coming. There we are, comfortable in our knowing, and the knowing takes away the stress and fear of the unknown.
However, what I have learned over my 36 years is our new desires, lives, and goals come at the cost of our old. This means we are going to have to get outside our comfort zone and follow the path unfollowed.
It will cost us relationships, patterns, friends, and familiarity. It will also cost us understanding. But all that said and done really does not matter because those things that we lose, we never really had anyway. Why? Because those who are really meant for us, and the things really meant for us, will meet us on the other side. And on that other side, a new comfort zone will be built, but in a way that will move us forward. Instead of being liked or chasing, you are going to be loved, understood, and seen. Really all that will be lost is what was built for the person you never were or no longer are.
So, how do we move from our comfort zones? Let us look at our lives as, “from little things, big things grow.” Let us think of little things as micro shifts. Increments of change in our day-to-day lives. It is in changing one small thing within a big thing that changes begin to grow.
Like adding in one snack in a day—change this, and then do it again and again, and before you even know it, you have created a new habit. First, we make our habits, then our habits make us. It is what we do every single day that creates the overall quality of our lives, and it is not whether we feel like it or not—it is that we do it when we don’t want to, regardless of how we feel.
Sometimes, motivation dries up. When this happens, our habits are there to pick us up. This is because the outcomes of our lives are not ruled by passion, they are ruled by principle.
So, if we want to change our lives and move from our comfort zones, we need to take tiny, nearly not-seen decisions every moment in every day until those choices become habitual—and then you’ll continue to do them, and your life will slowly blossom and grow.