We hear this one all the time: get out of your comfort zone! People tell us that success can be found in the places that we fear and that we should leave familiar territories to explore the unknown. Not getting out of your comfort zone leads to an unsuccessful and unfulfilled life; the magic happens when you leave it. Right? Not entirely. In fact, I believe that the comfort zone is a great place to find happiness and success.
In this video, I will explain why I love the comfort zone.
In our Western thinking, we seem to come up with the idea that to get successful we always need to experience a sense of discomfort. It’s very true that the right amount of discomfort results in progression. An example. Working out your muscles in the gym will damage them and by eating well they will build themselves up stronger. Also, you can conquer an irrational fear by repeatedly exposing yourself to the specific situation that evokes that fear.
But does that mean that we should always be in distress to achieve success? Are you a frail, cowardly person if you simply don’t like getting out of your comfort zone? Is your unwillingness to leave your comfort zone a recipe for failure and unhappiness?
I don’t think so.
A comfort zone is a place in which you probably do not experience a lot of anxiety, because, to you, it’s familiar ground. A comfort zone is relatively predictable and safe, so you don’t have to worry about threats and unpleasant surprises all the time. Human beings build comfort zones everywhere they arrive. These are places where you can safely relax, and where your basic needs are met. And because of this, you can direct your attention to other aspects of life besides survival, which is human connection and self-development. I will explain how I do this.
First of all, my comfort zone consists of several places and activities. My house, my gym, the forest, my close family, my close friends, a series of websites on the internet including YouTube, and my skill set. This is the zone where I feel very much at ease. The benefits of my comfort zone are endless. I can relax, cook myself a nice meal, browse the internet, interact with my loved ones and do things I´m not only good at but genuinely LIKE as well. In my comfort zone, I get and stay in shape, create these YouTube videos, study philosophy, plan for the days ahead, fulfill my basic needs and engage in introspection. This is how I achieve happiness and success.
The idea that for acquiring these things I need to get out of my comfort zone, is, therefore, utter nonsense if you ask me. I love my predictability, I love my peace, I love my serenity. Also, I love doing the things I do, and I rather emphasize my strengths than repair my weaknesses. This doesn’t mean that I don´t like an adventure from time to time and never invest in learning new skills, but, overall, the comfort zone is the place to be for me.
I mean: isn’t it great that when I hit the light switch that the light goes on? Isn’t it fantastic that I have access to food and water? Isn’t it lovely that I don’t have to worry every day that my house will be hit by a rocket, like they are in Syria? I think it is.
Is the advice to ´get out of your comfort zone´ legit, or might it be a way to make people do things that they don’t want to do? Is ´getting out of your comfort zone´ at work, simply a tactic from your employer to burden you with tasks you´re not comfortable with, disguised as personal growth? Or am I just a bit paranoid?
Anyway, here is the twist. I think that staying in our comfort zone all the time isn’t a good thing at all. In many cases, we should leave it. For example, if we want to achieve a certain goal that requires this, or to overcome our fears. Also, when we are truly stuck in a rut, or downright miserable with our current lives, it might be a great idea to visit unknown territories and expand our horizon. If your comfort zone is holding you back, it’s time to fly. Doing this, will most likely makes us anxious. And that’s normal. Like Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said: anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
Interestingly enough, after we’ve conquered new lands, we turn them into comfort zones again. This way, we can be safe, happy and start paving the way for success.