I like my comfort zone and I hate it. It’s safe, but if I stay there too long it starts to feel like a cage. No wild creature is happy in a cage, and we’re all wild creatures at heart.
Sure, we like the reliability of being well fed, clothed, safe, and loved. It’s my theory though (formed just this second) that we are meant to hunt, to seek, to struggle, to engage with a world that offers no guarantees.
Like a caged animal, we become depressed when we play it too safe. “Safe” offers no challenge, no growth, and no newness. Without those things we wither and die inside; we watch too much TV, we eat junk food, we numb out.
Could it be that the prevalence of depression in First World countries is because our lives don’t challenge us as much as we need them to?
We all need exercise to be healthy. Muscles need to break to become strong. Do our hearts and minds also need challenge to thrive?
About eighteen months ago I got sick. It was a weird benign tumor that caused a lot of pain, enough pain that I took myself to hospital at three one morning.
Eventually, the tumor healed and the pain stopped. It didn’t go away; it just stopped hurting me. In the meantime, though, I became very careful, controlled, and I dropped out of my life. I felt afraid and limited. I lost faith in myself.
My world got very small and I became too dependent on those close to me. I was not much fun. I lost friendships.
Now I am rebuilding. It’s not always easy, but I’m on the way back.
I can now see that my comfort zone isn’t comfortable. My fears and limitations have drawn the boundaries of my life, and that’s a small cage to live in.
That’s not how I want to live. I remember more lively times and I want that power and flow back. I want to break through the darkness into the bright light, where life is colorful again.
I want my life back.
If you also need to expand your comfort zone, you may benefit from applying these lessons that are helping me:
1. Get honest.
2. Change is possible.
3. Change is uncomfortable, and that’s okay.
4. Change happens step by step.
5. Explore possibility.
6. Take one tiny risk a day.
7. Every action is an experiment.
8. Courage is more important than success.
9. Risk develops resilience.