There is a phrase for those moments when we suddenly see a situation in a different light. It’s called a paradigm shift. We believe that we see the world as it really is. In actuality, we are seeing the world as we are. We filter everything that we observe through the lenses of our life experience. When we change, the world as we see it also changes.
It reminds me of the time many years ago when I first began wearing glasses. My vision felt good enough. I was getting around without running into any walls or other inanimate objects. A visit to my optometrist, however, was eye-opening (pun intended). When I realized just how much effort was required of my eyes to see things clearly, it became quite evident that corrective eyewear was in my future. Those prescription glasses provided a much clearer perspective of the physical world around me.
In much the same way, when we equip ourselves with new mental glasses, we can choose to observe the world around us with a fresh new perspective that sheds some light on who we are.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~Neale Donald Walsch
I embrace the spirit of this inspiring quote. I really do. But, I am not enamored with the use of the term “comfort zone”. Think about those two words. Comfort. Zone.
Comfort exudes images of soothing tea, warm blankets, and cozy fireplaces on a blustery winter day. Zone is the place we all long to be. Being “in the zone” is highly desirable for optimal performance in whatever we do.
With the images we are left to associate with our comfort zone, is it any wonder we stay put right there? It’s … well … comfortable. And these thoughts certainly don’t do anything to push us outside of it. We’re perfectly content right where we are, thank you very much.
What if we turned that phrase “comfort zone” upside down and gave it an edgier tone? What if we put on those new mental eyeglasses and looked at this term with a new mindset? Let’s call it our “complacent corner” instead. Did you just feel an unsettling urge to squirm in your seat? If your desire is to abandon your zone of comfort and do something extraordinary and breathtaking, squirming is a good sign.
com · pla · cent – adjective – pleased with one’s situation, often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied.
Comfortable carries a much different connotation than complacency. Comfortable is acceptable. Complacency leaves us on edge. Are we certain our situation is what we want it to be? Our new word choice certainly stokes the fire a bit and gets our inner flame burning a little hotter. We begin to favor action over inaction.
And what about a corner? No one wants to be stuck in a corner. It symbolizes not having a choice. There are no other options available to us. We are without any recourse for the situation we find ourselves in. Another subtle nudge towards action.
So, I have come up with my own alternate version of this quotation that favors momentum towards the adventure that we all innately desire. Life begins when we escape from our complacent corner.
We have so much to explore in this world. We have so much to see, to share, to do, to experience. We’re not going to do it snuggled under a blanket on the couch. We’re not going to do it with continual urges to leave our comfort zone. It’s just too darn comfortable there. We need a fresh, new perspective. We need a new paradigm. We need to escape from our complacent corner and live.
Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn and grow the most. ~Jim Whittaker (1st American to summit Mt Everest)
Live on the edge and you will have a life well lived.