I spent the day with my oldest son, whom I always refer to here as the Third Son. At one point I looked around the airplane hanger we were standing in and I said to him that I was sure I could find a way to make our day into a healthy living blog post. And I did. So here you go . . .
When I set out 2018 Bucket List Goals, number 1 on the list is Get Out of Comfort Zone. Number six on the list is Skydive. On Saturday I tackled both!
If you know me or have read most anything here on this site you know I live with a house full of big, strapping young men. And The Husband who isn’t quite as young as the other men. (sorry honey). However, it seems that the First Son is the only one who is not afraid of heights and is brave enough to jump out of a plane on a perfectly beautiful day with his mom. We had an amazing day together and an even more amazing time doing something we had both wanted to do for a long time. We planned this for a bit so the timing worked out for both of us, the weather could not have been more spectacular and the experience was about one of the most fun things I’ve done in quite some time!
I could go on and on with all the emotions and adjectives of the day, but will save you from all the gushing. I will admit one thing though. I have been asked if I was ever scared. There was that moment when we were on the plane and I was sitting on the bench in my tandem jumper’s lap, and the Third Son approached the door to do his jump. At that moment a huge wave of fear pierced me as I thought of something – or anything – happening to my son. That was my only fear. Thank heavens it was completely unfounded as he landed beautifully.
There is a reason for sharing this adventure with you. I have talked some about doing things this year to get out of my comfort zone. It turns out that there are huge health benefits for doing that!
The term comfort zone has been described as a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. This sounds like a pretty good place to stay to me. I like routine and structure. I like knowing a plan. I get a little stressed when I do not have a routine or plan. However, a little bit of stress is a good thing. A little bit of stress helps us grow, handle situations better and give us motivation to act.
Here is what I am striving for and trying to learn at this stage in my life:
There’s nothing wrong with being in your comfort zone, unless you get too comfortable and start holding yourself back instead of challenging yourself to learn, grow and try new things.
“Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push us to achieve goals we never thought we could. But it’s important to remember that we don’t need to challenge ourselves and be productive all the time,” as Alina Tugend put it in the New York Times . “It’s good to step out of our comfort zone. But it’s also good to be able to go back in.”
Helps you Perform at Your Peak
Getting out of your comfort zone is crucial in personal growth. If we only do the same things how can we expect to grow and find new things that we might be awesome at? On the flip side, we can also fall on our faces. I am okay with that. I began a new business venture recently. It has me out of my comfort zone in several ways. I went in it with my eyes wide open knowing I may fall on my face. So far so good, but we shall see. If I flog, that’s okay. I’ve already learned new things I can continue to use. I know that if I don’t give it a try I’ll never know what would or could have happened. Challenging ourselves usually makes us rise to the ocassion. (or that’s what the psychologists say!)
Taking those Risks Helps You Grow
I have never been a risk taker. Ever. I so admire those folks who can jump ship, take a new job, move to a new city, just take that risk and go with it. Young people tend to be the greatest risk takers. Even in my younger days I was never that carefree person.
Now I know that can be a huge obstacle to growth. I am so appreciateive and thankful for my parents pushing me to do some of the things that I did do. I wish I had done more! All that time spent having to figure things out, fumbling around, getting back up and starting over are huge learning opportunities. I think I am finally at a point where I am not so afraid of failure and want to just learn.
Helps you Become More Creative
I’ve talked a little bit on this site about creativity and how it really helps with our healthy mindset. However, being creative and allowing others to see or know about any creative work can be really uncomfortable. There’s always that chance that no one out there will like whatever it is you are doing.
“Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often,” Forbes contributor Steven Kotler wrote in a piece about Einstein.
I picked up paint and paintbrushes a little over a year ago. I had put them away after highschool graduation except for a painting in college I had to do for a drama class and a short lived business of painting bulletin boards when my boys were in preschool. I’ve had a blast painting again. I admit, some of it is just plain awful, and I paint right over it. Some of the other things I have liked, hung, given away and been asked to paint for others. That is really an anxiety-filled process for me. I love the process of the creating but the thought of having someone see and like or dislike it is really a test for me.
Stepping out of your comfort zone even once makes it easier and more likely that you’ll do it again. Case in point: 2012 research found that studying abroad resulted in boosts in students’ creativity. Students who spent a semester in Spain or Senegal scored higher on two different tests of creativity than students who did not study abroad.
I find this to be true. I think the more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes.
New Challenges Helps You Age Better
This is huge for me as I look into encouraging folks to create habits for longevity. Typically, as we get older, our comfort zones begin to shrink. If we keep expanding them then we are more open to trying new things and reaping all the benefits as we get older.
A 2013 study found that learning new and demanding life skills, while also maintaining a strong social network, can help us stay mentally sharp as we get older.
“The findings suggest that engagement alone is not enough,” the study’s lead researcher Denise Park, a psychologist at the University of Texas, told the American Psychological Association. “The three learning groups were pushed very hard to keep learning more and mastering more tasks and skills. Only the groups that were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge improved.”