You begin to feel alive at the depths of deprivation or at the peaks of happiness. That unhealthy agonizing pain or overwhelming sense of gratefulness that makes you question the meaning of existence. You may want to strive harder to feel the peaks of happiness again, you may have to strive harder to get out the muddy pits of pain. Somewhere along the way, you get into a zone often referred to as comfort zone.
By definition, ‘Comfort’ is understood as being in Ease, in Luxury or being content. In reality, comfort zone is nothing but comfortable.
Comfort Zone Analogies:
- Situation where your washing machine is not working from the last one year but you do not give a shit about it. You are just used to the inconvenience.
- Situation where you washing machine is 10 years old, uses 10 times more electricity than the newer ones but somehow gets the work done. You are just used to things being in a certain way. It works, that is all that matters.
Case 1: Sad Comfort Zone
How do you know that you are in this zone? Simple, it is lack of ambition or vision about what you want from life. Unless you tell the universe what you need the universe cannot provide. (cliché Law of Attraction). Life is capable of being better than you think it is.
Before all this, it takes great courage to accept that you are in the Sad Comfort Zone (SCZ) and need help getting out of it. People often end up in SCZ due to failures and disappointments. While both failure and disappointment are a matter of perspective, it is still a topic to discuss for another day, another post (spoiler alert).
The point is you don’t have to get used to inconvenience or heartbreaks. Expect more, expect better not from life but from yourself. You are perfectly capable of fixing all the issues that landed you in the SCZ. You are unique, weird or different or all of it. You are one and only. Only you can make you parents proud, only you can make your friends smile. You do not deserve to be in a SCZ. So let’s get the Washing Machine fixed now, can we?
How to get out of SCZ? Difficult part is to have a vision. It may go wrong in the beginning but do not hesitate to dream, to try. One day you will find your calling but you have to be willing. After that things get simple, take one quantifiable step towards your vision every day. Often the failure of your ideas is because they were too long term oriented. Like ‘I want to own an iPhone XV’ when it comes out and I respect that. But what step are you taking today for you to buy that iPhone when it comes out? Probably nothing, waiting for life to figure out itself. Do you see SCZ’s grand opening lighting up for you?
A quantifiable step involves a greater understanding of your own goal in life. The moment you can quantify your goal and manage your goal like a project manager, you have figured out life.
If you need an iPhone XV when it comes out, let’s do the math. Phones are getting expensive by the day and percentage of your earning that you have to shell out on a phone is increasing in line with that. If iPhone X costs $1000 now, considering time value of money and the stupendous Apple pricing, the cost of iPhone XV would be approximately $2500 (may not be accurate but I hope you get the point). Unless your income increases at the same rate you cannot get yourself this dream phone.
What is a quantifiable step at this stage then? To able to get to a situation where your spending on the iPhone XV does not cost you everything. If you know your goal, then you can plan your expenses and investments to reach your goal eventually. Earn your wish and do not wait for it happen to you. Some people are lucky enough to get what they want from life easily but for some of us, we must slog. Face it, life is unfair.
Life is more than just a smartphone. Relationships need a long-term vision, they should be meaningful. Have you taken that one step today to them how you feel? To tell your loved one they you miss them? Perhaps you are used to not speaking to your friends, it is indeed SCZ. Take that step, pick up that phone and speak rubbish, just like you always did.
Do not get used to being unsuccessful at work, learn something new every day. Take that one measurable step everyday towards your dream position. Meet people, network, do what you have to do to make you feel like that there is more in life than where you are.
Steps can be sometimes wrong, sometimes you may fall but do not sulk into the SCZ again. You have to gather all your courage and take another step. After all, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step (cliché).
Case 2: Happy Comfort Zone
If you know what makes you happy your heart yearns for it again. The hair at the back of your neck stand when you first do something that makes you happy. Law of diminishing marginal utility says that your happiness or satisfaction you get from doing something goes down as you tend to do the same thing again and again.
Now there are some situations we get ourselves to in life where you end up doing something because it made you happy, but now you are stuck with it for the rest of your life. The washing machine you bought 10 years ago made you happy, it made your life easy, it made you happy. But now, it is outdated. Accept it.
Most people are confused about what makes them happy. Do you call yourself a dog person? Okay so you think cats aren’t cute? Do you secretly watch cat videos on YouTube as well? The point is, we somehow brand ourselves to be something that we may not be anymore. There was a time when you didn’t like Vanilla ice cream so you called yourself a chocolate person. You try vanilla after a few years and if you like it, accept it. Do not pretend to not like it.
People live within boundaries that they create for themselves, boundaries that are branding them to be something that they think they should or what they want the world to perceive them as. Some have told me that they have never given anyone a second chance when someone broke their heart. It is subjective but debatable. In one instance you encountered an asshole who did not deserve a second chance but there are times you find people who truly deserve a second chance. Do not make yourself believe that you are a certain kind of a person.
Now, Happy Comfort Zone (HCZ) is a situation when you are accepting this quality or branding of self and have never bothered to change it. You are just comfortable as a person who doesn’t give a second chance rather than face the agony of a heartbreak again.
One other instance of a HCZ are people who restrict themselves from doing something in life just because they think they are not ‘that kinda’ people. You do not go to the mountains because you are a beach person. You do not eat fruits because you are a veggie person. You do not drink enough water because you have never had enough water. Get out of that zone, get out and see the mountains. Get out and eat all you want. Life is too short for us to restrict ourselves from doing things. Explore healthy ideas, explore the world and what it has to offer you.
The moment we stop branding ourselves as some ‘kind of’ person, the world opens up. You told yourself you are a shy person, you have remained lonely all your life. Stop saying to yourself that you are shy, do not tell yourself anything, just be you and see the magic that unfolds. Stop telling yourself about what kind of a relationship you are in. You may start out as ‘nothing serious’ but life changes, situation changes. Be true to yourself and to your partner. Get out of the comfort zone that keep you stable, you gotta aim higher.
Stop using the same washing machine, trust that new ones will be better, learn to let go.
How to not slip into comfort zone again? Good question.
Questions have answers in them. Are you more satisfied in life than yesterday? Have you learnt anything new today? Have you met someone new recently? Have you lost touch with someone who made you feel incredible? Have you asked anyone about how they feel about you? Have you told them how you genuinely feel about them?
Such rational questioning of oneself makes us responsible, grateful and happy. The purpose is to expand one’s consciousness every day by taking one quantifiable step every single day. It is good to be around with people who do not want to slip into comfort zone. Surround yourself with people who are spontaneous and thoughtful. Speak to everyone, do not restrict yourself if you feel like speaking to someone. The voice to do something comes from within and we mature in life only when we understand how to tune into that inner voice. That inner voice continuously reminds you when you are slipping into a comfort zone, trust that voice.
The point of this post is to empower and make people aware of their mental health. If you are in a comfort zone for longer it may lead to depression. Depression is something that needs professional help. Do not tell yourself that you do not need professional help, that in a way is a ‘comfort zone’. It is not a disease but a condition that most people across the globe have overcome and you can too if you are brave enough to accept it. Speak up, speak out, you are as wonderful as the sunshine.