Nuke your comfort zone
Science backed reasons to leave your comfort zone
Weakness, resistance, depression, self-doubt and negativity all live in the comfort zone like an insurgency, disguised as immediate gratification. To be happy, productive and healthy, leave your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is a state where you have minimum immediate anxiety and maximum immediate comfort. I say “immediate” because studies show that staying there too long creates unhappiness, minimal productivity, and mental health problems. Escaping your comfort zone can optimize productivity, happiness and mental health.
Performance improves when you step out gradually, with support and resources.
I’m not telling you to get off your couch and hike Mount Everest. Start small, get support and resources, and get after it. This can be getting a personal trainer to teach you how to exercise if you know nothing about exercise, or even reading a good book about your topic, something to help lower the anxiety of stepping out of your comfort zone. This reduces your fear to enough fear to keep you alert, focused on your craft, not complacent, but not enough fear to make you quit. This is backed by the research of Yerkes & Dodson, and is even referred to as the Yerkes-Dodson Law, or “optimal arousal”. See the graph about it.
So get support and resources and attack gradually. It’s like having troops, guns, tanks, intel and a plan to fight an enemy, versus fighting an enemy by yourself with bare hands and zero preparation.
Stress decreases and it’s easier to perform each time. And at a certain point, you achieve a state of maximum presentness and happiness, known as “flow”.
Like a vaccine helping your body fight a small dose of a disease, the first few steps out of your comfort zone help you fight fear/resistance. You get momentum. Each time you buckle down to work, or order a salad, or open the book, you feel less resistance. The stress you used to have about whatever you’re working on is less and less each time. You’re happier because you’re reducing stress in your life, stress which you even felt in the back of your mind when in your old comfort zone. You’re much happier standing over a defeated enemy than hiding from it knowing it’s still out there.
At a certain point, when you’re proficient enough to perform a task unaided, you can achieve a state of “flow”. Flow is a state where you are so present that you almost lose your sense of time. Stoic and Zen philosophers refer to this as “living in the present moment”, and regarded as the ultimate source of happiness. The term “flow” comes from psychologist Mihaly Csikzsentmihalyi, describing it as when one is engaged in a task with a goal, enough skill to move freely, and has a certain level of difficulty. So if I’m doing something that I do have skill in, but there’s zero difficulty in it for me, like the physical act of walking, I’m won’t achieve a flow state. But if I’m doing something that I’m skilled at, yet there is a level of difficulty (which would require me to step out of my comfort zone to perform, and achieve a state of optimal arousal as I just mentioned), I can achieve a glorious state of flow. I’ll go more into flow in other blog posts but for now just understand that flow makes you a much happier person and it involves leaving your comfort zone. It’s science backed or whatever too, I swear google it.
Learning new and mentally demanding skills throughout your life improves cognitive function.
Pretty self explanatory here. I won’t make any cool war metaphors for this one. If you’re so interested that you even read this far (thanks for that by the way) then there’s a link about it below.
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