The Science of Your "Comfort Zone"
Your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. That provides a state of mental security.
You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
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By challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn't do, you can experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment.
Learning to live outside your comfort zone when you choose to can prep you for life changes that force you out of it.
Without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to do the minimum required to get by.
We also fall into the "work trap," where we feign "busy" as a way to stay in our comfort zones and avoid doing new things.
Going back to your comfort zone from time to time will help you process your experiences.
The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring.
Even in the short term, a positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.
It is our natural tendency to be impressed by new things, only to have the incredible become ordinary after a short time.
It's why we can have access to so much information instantly and still get so bored.
A state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance. In order to maximize performance, a state of relative anxiety is needed—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called "Optimal Anxiety," and it's just outside our comfort zone.
Too much anxiety and we're too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.
As you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts, so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.
"Productive discomfort" becomes more normal to you, and you're willing to push farther before your performance falls off.
Have you ever made a decision that made you uncomfortable? Something for the ‘greater good’ that was out of your comfort zone? If you have, then you would know that pushing past those boundaries of comfort ultimately brings out the best in you.
If you haven’t then I really suggest you do.
“The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.” - Judith Bardwick in her 1991 work Danger in the Comfort Zone
Vulnerability challenges your confirmation bias.
It is uncomfortable to ask questions, express your opinion, or open up about your emotions with people. You expose yourself to their criticism and judgment, but you also expose yourself to answers and opposing views. And this is a lot more beneficial than stagnating in the comfort of what you already know.
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