“..that you would not anticipate misery since the evils you dread as coming upon you may perhaps never reach you at least they are not yet come Thus some things torture us more than they ought, some before they ought and some which ought never to torture us at all. We heighten our pain either by presupposing a cause or anticipation”
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
Comfort Zone – Noun – a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.
To become the best version of yourself you must continually explore outside your comfort zones. Seneca’s letters are a must read. The quote above relates comfort zones and the stress of anticipating an event. When you are anxious about getting outside your current comfort zone, you are afraid of doing the thing. Your thoughts take you to the what if statements. What if I mess up? What if I don’t succeed? What if? Your questions and anticipation of the event cause more distress than the actual event will.
And this is why we must explore what lies beyond our comfort zones. The best way is to LEAP outside the comfort zone and see what happens. Tippy toeing around the comfort zone will not accomplish anything. Act with courage; it could be anything big or small. Approaching a girl, trying a handstand, learning a new language, dancing in public, public speaking, open mic, or anything else that gets you outside your comfort zone. It’s VITAL to growth. Without out growth, we are not living.
The stress you feel is important. You need this stress and it is good for you. Jane McGonigal has a TED talk on how your view of stress is the key. If you view stress as a bad thing, your body responds negatively. If you view stress as a positive experience that helps you grow stronger from the experience, the body does not show the negative signs of stress.
These stress-recovery hormones include DHEA and nerve growth factor, both of which increase neuroplasticity. In other words, they help your brain learn from experience. DHEA is classified as a neurosteroid; in the same way that steroids help your body grow stronger from physical exercise, DHEA helps your brain grow stronger from psychological challenges. For several hours after you have a strong stress response, the brain is rewiring itself to remember and learn from the experience. Stress leaves an imprint on your brain that prepares you to handle similar stress the next time you encounter it.
Psychologists call the process of learning and growing from a difficult experience stress inoculation. Going through the experience gives your brain and body a kind of stress vaccine. This is why putting people through practice stress is a key training technique for NASA astronauts, Navy SEALS, emergency responders and elite athletes, and others who have to thrive under high levels of stress. But stress inoculation doesn’t just transfer to similar stress situations; getting good at one kind of stress often helps in unfamiliar challenges. For example, when people were asked how they are coping with the biggest source of stress in their lives, eighty-two per cent said they were drawing on strengths and confidence developed from past stressful experiences.
So go forth today. Experience failure. Go outside your comfort zones. Experience the rush of the moment doing something scary (within reason). LIVE!