We tend to seek comfort and avoid discomfort. Comfort is soothing, easy, peaceful. Comfort is, well, comfortable. But if we explore it more deeply, might discomfort be getting an undeserved, universal bad rap?
Work with me for a moment. Think about the times during your life that you have been comfortable. Comfort with your job. Comfort in your relationships. Comfort with your home. I’ll bet a sense of peace comes to mind. But if you dig more deeply, perhaps also a feeling of boredom and complacency?
I propose that being too comfortable too much of the time can become a detriment. When we are too comfortable and confident we can become stale and lose motivation. We are not as aware of nuances and opportunities around us. This kind of complacency can happen to people, companies, communities and nations. When we lose our constructive energy and Curiosity, we lose our edge, risk stagnation and stop contributing to the Highest Good.
Now let’s look at the places in your life where you encountered your most significant growth. These are generally places when you were outside your comfort zone. Often they were times when you did not feel like you were in control of the outcome. From divorce, and job layoff, to poor health and bankruptcy. These experiences were probably quite uncomfortable. They required creativity, courage and persistence. You had to take calculated risks and have faith.
Looking back on such times, many people report discovering or developing skills they wouldn’t have believed were possible. When the tough time had passed, they found they had grown, learning lessons about themselves and the world, more quickly and deeply than anything they learned during the more comfortable times. And, even more interesting, they enlarged their comfort zone. While they still might not choose voluntarily a divorce or job loss, they are able to see that everything truly is an opportunity. Each time we step outside our comfort zone by being offered an opportunity for greater growth and learning, we enlarge our world by gaining a much broader perspective. The loss we feared becomes a treasured gift.
When an oyster encounters the inevitable sand in its shell, it doesn’t whine, complain and give up. It doesn’t just recede into its shell to wait it out. It decides to lean into the irritation and create something of exquisite beauty and value. It creates a pearl. I encourage you to stretch yourself. Take some steps outside your comfort zone and embrace the strength and growth it fosters. Make your own strand of pearls, one Baby Step at a time. You’re worth the effort.