A feeling of self-fulfillment is a result of knowing that you’re living at your best, living life near the limits of your capabilities. Many of us, however, are not challenging ourselves sufficiently to feel self-fulfilled. The main obstacle is the desire to be comfortable. But we only grow when we live beyond our comfort zone.
Did you know that organisms that aren’t stressed enough early in life don’t thrive as well? It’s true. For example, the temperature variations that bird and reptile eggs are subjected to actually increase the amount of vigor in the newly hatched animals. If an egg is incubated at a very precise temperature, the resulting hatchling is weak.
In many ways, we are similar to that hatchling. A lack of challenge and stimulation decreases our ability to deal with the demands of the world. Our capabilities actually decrease. Obviously, this is a movement in the wrong direction if we really want a feeling of self-fulfillment.
Expanding one’s comfort zone can be scary or exciting, depending on your perspective. But regardless, it’s at least a little uncomfortable. This is how we grow as human beings.
The key is to start slowly and begin to expand your horizons. Soon it will feel normal. A strong step in the right direction is all that’s needed, then another. You’ll be shocked, and thrilled at the results. Then it’s time to move a little further.
Scenario: From Shyness to Confident Public Speaker
Perhaps you can identify with a desire to become comfortable with public speaking, however you’re naturally shy. If you’re really shy, you most likely aren’t very social. You may even have difficulty looking a stranger in the eye.
Naturally, your inclination will be to avoid other people. But humans are social animals. We have a basic need for companionship and other human interaction. How self-fulfilled are you likely to be if you can’t even interact comfortably with other people?
You could decide to join a public speaking club and schedule three speeches each week, but that will most likely be way too difficult – so much so that you may quit before you ever begin.
Instead, try this strategy: focus on getting to know your neighbors and asking strangers for direction. If you do this with sufficient regularity, you’ll eventually feel comfortable with these tasks. You can then extend beyond that and start having meaningful conversations with strangers. Eventually, you could become a comfortable, relaxed public speaker.
By expanding your comfort zone, you provide yourself with more options. More options lead to a life with far more variety. When you feel like you have options, you can realize fulfillment.
How to Expand Your Comfort Zone
Try this easy process:
1. Choose something from your own life that’s limiting you. Maybe it’s communicating with others. Maybe you’d like to be a musician, but you’re afraid to perform. Maybe you want to become a writer but you’re too nervous about being judged.
2. Take one small step. Now think about one small, relatively easy step you could take towards realizing that new activity. It can’t be completely without discomfort or it won’t increase your comfort zone. Perform this activity again and again until you feel that you can take the next step.
3. Pick something else. Repeat step 2.
4. Rinse and repeat.
It really is that simple.
Increasing your comfort zone is uncomfortable and challenging, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it! The key is to move forward at a pace you can manage, but keep moving.
You’ll be so happy where you end up!