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The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone – Part 3

The sooner you step away from your comfort zone, you’ll realize that it really wasn’t all that comfortable.             

  • Eddie Harris, Jr.

As uncomfortable as breaking out of our comfort zones may be, the benefits of doing so are undeniable.  The fear of the familiar can be quite formidable, but it can be surmounted through strategic and intentional methods.  Over the last two weeks we have discussed the benefits and strategies of breaking out of our comfort zones via an article that I shared from by Alan Henry entitled The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should).    We will conclude our discussion this week through the final portion of the article that concerns itself with utilizing balance in breaking out of our comfort zones and making it a habit to stretch ourselves.  As I’ve indicated throughout the time that I’ve shared from this article, I believe that it practically addresses the issue of stretching ourselves and will challenge us in a practical way. 

Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.  #ebcBETTER

Why It's Important to Return to Your Comfort Zone from Time to Time

You can't live outside of your comfort zone all the time. You need to come back from time to time to process your experiences. The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring. This phenomenon, called hedonistic adaptation, is the natural tendency to be impressed by new things only to have the incredible become ordinary after a short time. It's why we can have access to the greatest repository of human knowledge ever created (the internet) at our fingertips (on our smartphones) and still get so bored that all we think of is how quickly we can get newer, faster access. In one way it drives us forward, but in another it keeps us from appreciating the subtle and the everyday. Here are some ways to break out (and by proxy, expand) your comfort zone without going too far:


You can fight this by trying new, smaller things. Ordering something new at a restaurant where you get the same thing every visit can be eye-opening the same way visiting a new country can be, and both push you out of your comfortable spaces. Diversify the challenges you embrace so you don't just push your boundaries in the same direction. If you've been learning Latin-based languages and you find yourself bored, switch gears to a language with a completely different set of characters. If you've taken up running, instead of just trying to run longer and farther, try challenging yourself to run on different terrain. You still get the challenge, but you broaden your horizons in a different way.


Take It Slow, and Make Stretching Your Boundaries a Habit of Its Own

The point of stepping out of your comfort zone is to embrace new experiences and to get to that state of optimal anxiety in a controlled, managed way, not to stress yourself out. Take time to reflect on your experiences so you can reap the benefits and apply them to your day to day activities. Then do something else interesting and new. Make it a habit if you can. Try something new every week, or every month. Our own Adam Dachis has committed himself to doing something weird and new every week, just to test his boundaries.

Similarly, don't limit yourself to big, huge experiences. Maybe meditation pushes you out of your comfort zone just as much as bungee jumping. Try the former if you've already done the latter. The goal isn't to become an adrenaline junkie—you just want to learn to learn what you're really capable of. That's another reason why it's important to return to a comfortable state sometimes and just relax. Just don't forget to bring back as much as you can carry from those inspired, creative, productive, and slightly uncomfortable moments when you do.

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