This time of year resolutions run the gamut from the physical to the spiritual. Motivation surges to an all time high, but within a month, seems to fizzle out. Many self-help gurus advise, “Take a quantum leap; leave your comfort zone if you want to improve yourself or your situation.” This means taking the path less travelled as Robert Frost poetically instructs. However, taking the path less traveled might actually make you a conformist; by now the phrase is so pervasive that it has become cliché. In the journey toward self-realization it seems like a quick fix to just chuck it all and escape instead of staying the course. Isn’t it possible that taking the ordinary, common path and feeling comfortable like sitting in your easy chair, reading a good book while biting into a crisp apple, could actually be the nonconformist route? Instead of drastic changes, other cultures, like the Japanese model of Kaizen, suggest very small, slowly measured steps to reap giant gains.
Many of us are busy escaping from the deficits of our personality, from our unhappiness, trying to be something we’re not. Perhaps, we wish we could trade places with people who appear to be more successful at work or in their relationships. Stress urges us to keep running away from the self in order to avoid thinking about, ultimately facing our unhappiness. If you are acrophobic, and think zip-lining in the rain forest will make you a better person, think again.
I invite you to soar by experiencing new things within the context of your daily life, the real place where you live with your family and work with your colleagues. Within this framework dare to be more spontaneous, tell people what you really think because you are comfortable with your identity and are speaking your truth. This is why introverts don’t need to leave their comfort zone and transform themselves into extroverts. Introverts contribute differently from the popular life-of-the-party people. Introverts often think deeply about matters before they speak and they are great observers of human nature.
Let’s examine the following example from a different perspective. Many people experiencing stress, destabilized by life struggles are advised to meditate, do yoga postures. For some this is healthy, helpful and pleasurable. For others, this spiritual prescription might be stressful and painful – like composing a shopping list in one’s head just to get through meditation or getting hurt doing certain yoga postures. One shouldn’t do yoga or meditation because one ought to, because the East is in vogue now and one feels pressured to be enlightened. Any form of fun and laughter for its own pleasurable sake will contribute more to our spiritual growth and overall happiness than pretentious or mandatory contemplation.
We should not force the self to become something we are not, just because it is chic to take the road not taken, predictably unpredictable. Not everyone is an actor or dancer. Some enjoy observing and clapping. Let’s not postpone liberating our inner voice because we are afraid of what we will find inside the self. Our sweet inner voice lets us know what we need for self-care, an innate life-coach.
How to live comfortably in your comfort zone
- Create your own “garret” at home -- even a corner will do -- to let your imagination percolate.
- Review opposing aphorisms like: Absence makes the heart grow fonder; Out of sight, out of mind. Find what makes sense for you.
- Strength train to turn your focus inward – the mind/muscle connection.
- Become a tourist in your own neighborhood; check out concerts, fairs and film festivals where you live.
- Ride your local ferry and have a picnic on board – even in winter.
- Sit in a local café and watch passersby or those seated near you.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-management specialist, mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.