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Life Is About Leaving The Comfort Zone And A Little More

Life Is About Leaving The Comfort Zone And A Little More

We all do it. We get comfortable, we settle in, we buckle up, we play it safe. In habitual, neurological fashion, our brain processes this comfort zone as the best way to experience life because it feels safe, and safe means we won’t die. But this comfort zone is merely a habit, passed down through generations of ancestors who actually needed to be safe from wild animals, severe weather, lack of food. In other words, this comfort zone does not serve us.

What does serve us is getting out into the world and experiencing life. Soaking in the world’s diversity, chaos, and wonder. Stepping into new experiences and pushing our own comfort zones beyond the borders of fight or flight. So here’s how to get a little more out of your life by leaving your comfort zone:

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Where you are right at this moment is not (necessarily) where you need to be for the rest of your life.

The thing we have to sort out in our brains from time to time is that nothing in this life is inevitable. Absolutely everything and everyone we surround ourselves with is a choice. Which means it is up to you to forge your path. If you’re living at home, or in a city you’re not crazy about, or working a job that is just sort of okay, this isn’t a life sentence. Expand what you think is possible. Write down an ideal life for yourself. Make it absurd, make it unconventional, make it connected to your gut feeling, not your skeptical brain. Then write down your daily life as it stands now. These two lists hold the same amount of non-inevitability, but you made a choice to live one of them. Make a new choice.

If you never leave your 100-mile radius, get out of town and see more of the world. 

There is more to life than just what is in front of our noses. We can reason away that we’re expanding our horizons by trying a new Thai restaurant, or seeing a new play, but that’s not the same as leaving the comfort of our familiar streets and heading out into the unknown. Changing up our geographical location shakes up our insides. Simply being in a new landscape where you are literally looking at new things can change your entire life perspective. With apps like Airbnb, Living Social, and Groupon, there is no reason you can’t switch things up on the fly. Do not think. Just go.

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Just say yes. 

There is one rule in improv comedy: “Yes, and…” You don’t say no to your scene partner because it stops the action. Saying no means everything screeches to a halt and the flow that was building gets immediately shut down. Saying “Yes, and…” to life means you are open to experiences and people, you don’t immediately shut down when someone offers an opportunity and you are able to move forward with both trust and enthusiasm. The next time someone asks you to do something that would take you out of your comfort zone, follow these three steps: Slow Down. Listen. Say yes.

Try all the things you know you want to do. 

You know those things you wanted to do as a kid? Be an astronaut, go horseback riding, write the best sci-fi novel ever written? Chances are there is still a little bit of that desire resonating in your bones. Sit down and make a long list of things that spark a mild interest in you. If you’re not sure where to begin, try a random search engine like StumbleUpon to get your creative juices flowing. Look at your list and assign one new thing to each month of the year. You’re not committing to much, just one new activity a month, but it will fill you up and break your comfort zone on the regular.

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Talk to strangers. 

We are so trained to think strangers will harm us, especially when we live in a big city. But strangers offer a perspective that our friends and family just aren’t giving us. Standing in line for coffee and talking to a stranger usually means there is no pretense. Neither of you care so much what the other thinks, so you’re just a meeting of the minds in that one moment in time. Talking to strangers can be disarming and freeing and let you see the world in all its magical diversity and expansiveness.

Do something you know you won’t be good at.

Maybe the best way to get out of your comfort zone is to do something that will not make you look good. Go ahead and fail. The best way to see that your comfort zone is holding you back from experiencing all the abundance life has to offer is to realize that when you fail, your heart keeps beating, your next breath comes, and it doesn’t hurt as much as you thought it would. When you do something you know you’ll stink at, you begin the learning process again. That learning process is uncomfortable at first, but think about how much you’ve already learned in life. If you hit a certain age and think there is nothing left to learn, you’ve just shut yourself off to the wide range of life’s experiences. Doing something you might fail at is the best initiator for innovation, creation and quantum leaps. Failing never felt so good.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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