Life Begins at The End of Your Comfort Zone…Really?
Neale Donald Walsch’s famous quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” is a great metaphor pointing the way to a bigger adventure but in my experience, only if you’re willing to risk your personality for the chance to expand your experience of life.
This is the call to action. Let me explain what I mean…
“A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you look at the way human beings show up in the world, at one end of the spectrum there’s men (and women) who come from a place where there willing to push themselves to their limits, irrespective of their feelings.
Of course they feel fear, but they don’t let it get in the way of their mission. They are driven by the stronger pull of making their lives count. These men rise up in times of challenge and bring a contagious energy for life that ignites a flame in others.
They don’t care for conformity or drown in their own self interests. They’re inspired by something bigger than their personalities. They want the toils of their efforts to leave the world in a better place than they found it.
These are the kind of men who show us mere mortals, what’s possible when we get out of our own way and don’t let fear be our rulers.
At the other end there are people, generally men who cause pain. Men so entrenched in misguided fearful thinking, their intent is to cause destruction. Men trapped in the belief that their beliefs are the truth, so one way or another they create suffering in the lives of others, because they’re disconnected from the truth of who they really are.
Sam Harris’s theory about free will, argues they can’t help it, if you’d been through the same life experiences as them, you do the same. This applies wherever you show up on the spectrum. Including what I call the middle ground, where average guys like me hang out.
There’s nothing wrong with the middle ground. It’s the mainstay of society. There are times of hardship and struggle, but generally we have everything we need to survive and probably a whole lot more. Life here can be fully satisfying, but for some it can feel like it’s not enough, especially if you’re waking up to the truth of who you are.
If so you probably feel like life has so much more to offer, that you have more to offer the world.
That said, it can feel like a huge leap, not in the physical sense, more like a seismic internal shift, because the risk of leaving the perceived safety of the middle ground at least in my experience, probably keeps a lot of men stuck. Does this ring true for you?
Personally it’s my intention to keep taking steps away from comfort towards a bigger, more authentic adventure, but I still cling to it more often than I’d like, instead of saying fuck it and truly following my heart.
Stepping beyond what we know isn’t easy because, it’s what we know best as Sam Harris’s theory explains “you don’t choose to choose what you choose in life”. He argues that every choice you make is driven by unconscious or hidden desires, beliefs, states and intentions which have been hammered into during your life time. All that we are really doing in life is “in each moment we are simply discovering what our life is”.
This perhaps explains why I often find myself hanging on in there, hoping things might improve, fearful of taking the next step. I’ve found doing nothing or in fact doing the same things over and over, hoping for a change just prolongs the anguish.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t change. In fact if you’re reading this it’s likely you have no choice in the matter. You’re driven by a desire to create more of what matters to you in your life.
The Theory of Risk Aversion
It reminds me of something psychologists call risk aversion – a theory they tested with day traders. As a rule of thumb good trading requires you to sell losing stock and keep stock that makes money. However the vast majority of stock brokers sell stock that’s making money and hold on to the losing stock to avoid loss, but it rarely works out.
The fear of losing it seems, is more powerful psychologically than playing the game of life well. Sticking with ‘losing stock’ is likely to result in an emotional struggle, with not much to show at the end but a belly full of regrets.
When I say losing stock, I mean the negative thoughts based in fear that stop me taking the actions I need to move forward. At some point to create your big ideas you have to let go of that losing mentality. You have to be brave enough to look at yourself and your life objectively to see where you’re holding yourself back and find away to put that right; rather than fearfully cling to old habits to maintain a degree of comfort.
At some point to create your big ideas you have to let go of that losing mentality. You have to be brave enough to look at yourself and your life objectively to see where you’re holding yourself back and find away to put that right; rather than fearfully cling to old habits to maintain a degree of comfort.
I am not suggesting it’s easy. Fear rules most peoples lives to some degree, but the more you follow what’s winning and aim to ignore and discard what feels like a loss, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
It may appear scary because you have to change, but what’s the alternative?
In my experience there comes a point when comfortable becomes too uncomfortable to carry on with. In fact discomfort paradoxically offers me more comfort, because it means progress is occurring.
Uncomfortable isn’t easy, but if you’re like me, sooner or later you’ll take the next risk, because sticking with losing trades – the old ways of being and habits that hold me back is no longer an option.
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