The Happiness Connection  

Leap into the unknown

“Get comfortable, with being uncomfortable.”

I love this statement by Jillian Michaels because moving out of your comfort zone cannot be avoided. You might as well accept it, instead of resisting it.

Your comfort zone refers to everything that is familiar to you. The job you’ve had for years, the home you know so well, and the habits you’ve developed are just a few examples. In this zone, you can go about your life with barely a thought.

If you’ve been following my column, you will know that mindless living does not contribute to a positive sense of well-being. Stepping into new situations and living to tell the tale does.

Humans are programmed with a drive to survive. It is your brain’s No. 1 priority. When you move into the unknown, you are less certain this will be the outcome. In your comfort zone, you feel safe, and may mistakenly believe this is the best place to be if you want to live to see another day.

The problem with huddling in the security of the familiar, is that while you are there, the world around you is changing and evolving. The only way to maintain your safety is to change and evolve along with your environment.

It is impossible to move forward without experiencing new challenges, situations, and opportunities. The challenges let you know the areas that need growth, and the situations give opportunities to practice new and existing skills.

Even if you want to remain in the perceived safety of the familiar, the changes occurring around you won’t let that happen. If you are fearful of the unknown and resist new experiences, rest assured that the universe will give you a nudge, a push, or a wallop.

Think about those annoying times when things don’t work out the way you planned. Perhaps you’ve arranged to be picked up after an evening out, but your ride doesn’t arrive. What do you do? If this has never happened to you before, you will find yourself stepping into the unknown.

In fairness, those people who choose to step out of their comfort zone are also affected by events out of their control, but the more accustomed you are to new experiences, the more comfortable you will feel with them.

It is much easier for me to encounter an unexpected situation and deal with it in my stride, than it is for my mother who is less practised at it than I am. But it is never too late to learn new skills and attitudes.

My 87-year-old mom goes to a group exercise program twice a week. It was getting difficult for my father to drop her off and then pick her up an hour later, so a few months ago, she made the decision to take the Handy Dart bus to her class.

My dad still picked her up when it finished and drove her home.

It might not sound like a difficult thing to do, by for my mom it was a huge leap into the unknown. She was nervous, but she did it anyway and she survived the experience.

When my dad injured himself a month or so ago, she was hopeful that I might pick her up, but I encouraged her to take the Handy Dart home as well. It was a similar but different experience, so once again she was nervous.

Yes, some people might judge me and declare me a bad daughter, but my decision to nudge my mom into the unknown has paid off for both of us. I can continue with my normal work day, and my mom is visibly strengthened.

She isn’t worried about making her own way to and from her class, and that independence is showing in her attitude towards life. We both know that if at any time taking the Handy Dart no longer makes sense, I will be her personal taxi service.

I’m sure everyone can relate to feeling nervous when faced with a new experience, but if you are letting those feeling prevent your from stepping into the unknown, there is no time like the present to turn that around.

Think of one thing you have been putting off because it makes you feel uncomfortable, and make a commitment to get it done before the week is over. The only way you will ever feel better about leaving your world of familiarity, is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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