One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again..."
– Abraham Maslow
Countless people operate day to day within their comfort zone; a silent but common ailment. The longer someone stays within it's confines, the less happy they tend to be. Stepping beyond the boundaries of what's familiar is essential to finding happiness, accomplishing goals and discovering your true passions in life. So why do so many of us choose to stay there if it's slowly draining us?
Big changes take lots of energy. Everything in life takes energy, which can be translated into motivation. If we lack the motivation necessary to make big life changes, we as humans find reasons to remain in a state of stasis; after all, stepping beyond our current circumstances could end up being uncomfortable and even scary!
But if you do not journey past all that you know, you're deliberately robbing yourself of 3 beautiful things life has to offer on the other side....
You are not growing
Shawn Achor, a positivity psychologist and author, states that happiness is "the joy you feel moving towards your potential."
We've all heard the saying that if you aren't growing and moving forward, you're really slipping backwards. Progress is a key ingredient to happiness in life! As long as you remain within your comfort zone, you're not growing because you're making no movement towards progress or growth. Remember, growth is about becoming more than you currently are and without experiencing all that is outside of you, you'll never get there.
You're not out there trying new things
What are you passionate about? The luckiest of us discover what we love doing early on in life, and we're able to follow our hearts as we spend our lives mastering the art of it. But if you're anything like the majority of people, you spend the first two or three decades of life searching and testing and wondering what it is that our hearts desire.... And that's only if you're diving into one thing after another, and constantly trying new things.
Your comfort zone isn't about getting out there, challenging yourself and discovering. In fact, you'll rarely try anything new and if you do, it's typically not of your own free will.
You're becoming comfortable with settling
The worst fate of all! We all know those people that had a dream straight out of college and then life happened. They settled for a life that was good enough without being too much; they decided to remain comfortable and unchallenged versus chasing tirelessly after their passions.
And this situation alone isn't the worst of it. If you become conditioned to settle in general, you will fail at recognizing prime opportunities that come along throughout life. You'll reject them out of the fear of leaving what you've always known.
Don't worry - there is still hope! Anyone and everyone can expand their comfort zones and even wander beyond them in a healthy and enjoyable way. The real trick to beating is to make feeling uncomfortable a conscious and constant habit. The more you do it, the less resistance you'll experience to the feeling itself and to the actions associated with it.
The old adage 'one step at a time' truly comes into play here. That first step is the most essential because it's the only one where we're facing our fears directly. Second and third steps are significantly less terrifying, and before you know it you're running from your comfort zone with a smile on your face. The next time around will be that much easier, as your confidence builds.
Here are 3 things you can do to develop the self confidence and strength necessary to step outside your comfort zone regularly...
1.) Make a list of your procrastinations
What are all of the things that you've been putting off and continue to put off? Try to think of everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that you've been procrastinating on for a few weeks or more.
2.) Start checking off things from that list, beginning with the smallest
Don't go chasing the whales on your list; begin with the small fish and work your way up. It's essential that you take that first step and experience success as quickly as possible.
3.) Continue moving forward
It's all about momentum from here. Continue moving forward by stepping further and further from your comfort zone until you feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way!
Your resolve is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Before you know it, spending substantial amounts of time beyond your comfort zone will become the new norm.
Thank you to Pete McBride and Vital Films for creating this beautiful tribute to the wilderness of the United States in honor of the Wilderness Act's 50th Anniversary."We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.."
- Wallace Stegner
With more people, families and groups venturing into Rocky Mountain National Park than ever before, you may be wondering how park rangers, staff and volunteers do it...
How do they keep all the pieces in place?
What challenges do they face?
And how can I help?
Thanks to Miles Barger, a visual information specialist for Rocky Mountain National Park, you can now learn so much more about the park and all the people who look after it. Throughout his career in park services, he has been constantly reminded of the deep love and curiosity that visitors have for national parks and wild places - but it isn't just about the wilderness itself. When it comes to national parks, visitors develop the same feelings for the people that look after them! With that in mind, Barger and his coworker Hope Ozolins created a team and a structure for a brand new podcast called Rocky Mountain National Podcast.
Listeners will enjoy 10 episodes per season, each one an hour long. The first season's focus will be on different park personnel, starting with some of the most beloved to park visitors; rangers and other educational and interpretive program leaders. He discusses things like why they became involved in national parks, what they do within Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the unique knowledge they impart on others. Personal stories blend with park information, news & updates, and specific information on planning a trip to the park."We are always looking for ways to reach other audiences and new tools to give people the information they want about the park," Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP, said.
Barger hopes to continue evolving the podcast to include a mini-series within the main season; shorter segments that focus on something more specific, like a research project or a current concern. The first 4 episodes are out already - take a listen for yourself!
Season 1, Episode 1: A Love of the Mountains with Kathy Brazelton
Join Kathy Brazelton, an East District Naturalist, in the Upper Beaver Meadows, as she shares her life as a ranger, ranger programs, various signs of spring and more.
Season 1, Episode 2: Chillin' in the Alpine with Cynthia Langguth
Ranger Cynthia Langguth teaches us about the interesting world of the alpine tundra. She'll teach about marmots, pika, ptarmigan and everything else in the land above the tree line...
Season 1, Episode 3: Gettin' Wild on Rocky's West Side
Explore all that the West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer with rangers Maci MacPherson and Michele Simmons!
Season 1, Episode 4: With Kyle Patterson
What does the Public Affairs Officer for RMNP actually do? Join Kyle Patterson and explore what he does, day in and day out; sharing news and messages, dealing with current issues at the park, and even how you can help keep the park beautiful for generations to come.
Though we love the Rocky Mountains and all of their wilderness, there are many other beautiful places throughout Colorado. But it can be difficult to see them all from the best angle, which is where filming drones come in! A bird's eye view allows you to see things from a new perspective, and sometimes that's all we need.
(Video Credit: DJI Inspire 1 | Chroma 4K)
If you're in need of a perspective shift, there are 5 steps you can take...
What is the challenge you're facing? To make it to the end, you need to know where you're starting from. Visualize yourself in the situation that you're dealing with - hear it, feel it and see it. Conjure up every detail you can to make it more real.
Expand it. The problem with only seeing things one way is that it's limited. Imagine you're going further and further from yourself and your challenge, until you're looking down at it from a complete bird's eye view. Focus on everyone else involved, and try to see it in it's entirety. What do you see that you haven't before? Does your perspective change from way up there?
Leave Earth behind. Imagine you're traveling even farther, past the atmosphere and into outer space. From way out there, what do you notice and how do you feel? What changes are there in your stress level as the challenge becomes further and further away?
Come back home. When you're ready, begin coming back towards the problem. As you return, go into the bodies of others involved before coming back into your own. See the situation from their viewpoint, no matter how difficult it is. What do you learn? Finally, come back into your own self. How have things now changed for you?
Take action. We usually cannot change other people but we can change what we do and how we react to others around us. What will you do next?