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10 Reasons To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Now

10 Reasons To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Now

“Get out of your comfort zone.”

We’ve heard these words from those cheerful, annoying, inspirational go-getters so often that they’ve become cliché:

“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”
Stephen Hunt

“Move fast and break things.”
Mark Zuckerberg

Seriously?

And we look around at the government, at the economy, at our wars, at our marriages, at our jobs, and at our lives, and think, “How is getting out of my comfort zone going to change any of this?”

Well, it’s not. At least, not at first.

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But what it WILL do is make us feel better.

Even if feeling better is the only thing we get out of it, isn’t that worth making just a little bit of effort to drag ourselves to a lecture, read a book, paint our walls, plink on a guitar, learn how to say “thank you” in another language, or change our ringtone?

I mean, what the heck? What have we got to lose, other than a few minutes or maybe an hour of our lives? And then if it was a complete waste of time, we’re only out an hour and a little effort, and we can always go back to being boring old us again if we want to.

Then again, we might find getting out of our comfort zones strangely habit-forming. Here are 10 reasons you should get out of your comfort zone asap.

1. It’ll make you happy.

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    I’ll bet you weren’t in your comfort zone the last time you were absolutely giddy, were you?

    2. It’ll make you rich.

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    money

      Rich people didn’t “buy into” the story that their financial situation was permanent. They got out of their comfort zones, and their lives got better.

      3. It’ll make you smart.

      beyonce

        Smart people tend to ask irreverent questions and poke fun at established beliefs. Sometimes, they even think offending people is funny.

        4. It’ll make you creative.

        monster

          Which is a heck of a lot more fun than being reactive.

          5. It’ll help the human species evolve.

          Evolve

            What on EARTH was that lungfish thinking?

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            6. It’s not that hard.

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              You don’t have to overthrow the whole world at once; you can stage microrevolts and still be a conqueror.

              7. It’ll prove to you just how tough and resourceful you really are.

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                And you’re the most important one to please, right?

                8. It’ll put you in control of your life.

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                  Are you really gonna wait around for life to cooperate first? Good luck!

                  9. It’ll prepare you for the unexpected.

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                  gun shot

                    If you regularly train your mental muscles, it’ll be easier for them to deal with those nasty ambushes.

                    10. It’ll wake you up and make you feel sharp and alive.

                    love

                      Nothin’ like not knowing what the !#@% you’re doing to open the window to the stuffy closet of your mind!

                      Surprise! You’re on life’s Candid Camera—and if you smile, life might very well smile back at you!

                      Featured photo credit: Red, White, and Blue via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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