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Staying in Your Comfort Zone is the Key to Happiness

The truth is the comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually THE KEY to finding lasting happiness.

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It’s no secret we all want to be happy. The problem is no one really knows how to get there.

While there are all sorts of theories, methods, and modern-day hacks to answer the biggest of human questions, one thing most experts seem to agree on is that the comfort zone is a bad place. So bad in fact, they push us to “break the comfort zone” and “get uncomfortable” to force positive change and join them in the rush to lifelong happiness. Like cattle being prodded with a hot iron bar. 

Besides the damaging suggestion we’re not already enough, these strategies rarely work because they fail to acknowledge who we really are. I’ll explain more on that in a minute, but the truth is the comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually THE KEY to finding lasting happiness.

Just think about it logically for a second; our comfort zones are comfortable for a reason. By embracing this fundamental part of who we are and clearly understanding why it gives us such wonderful feelings of security, control, confidence and satisfaction, shouldn’t it be possible to find even more? On the other side of the coin, wouldn’t deliberately turning our back on such a core part of our being only cause more hardship and distress?

I reckon it does, and there’s a good reason why.  

The problem with getting out of your comfort zone 

Robert Greene, the American author of bestsellers such as The Art of Seduction and The Laws of Human Nature once said, “Think of yourself as an explorer. You cannot find anything new if you are unwilling to leave the shore.”

As an obvious supporter of “comfort zone is bad” thinking, he does have a point – you can’t find anything new unless you explore. But this famous quote and many others like it conveniently skip over the hard part of such advice.

Specifically, if we should all be explorers leaving our shores for new things to enrich us, fulfil us and make us happy, shouldn’t we make sure we’ve got a boat that’s equipped for the journey first? You wouldn’t jump into any old canoe you found washed up on the shore to begin such an important journey, would you? Of course not! You’d want to use the best ship possible; one you built yourself and had sailed a million times. One you knew like the back of your hand – every button and every lever – so you had the best chance possible of getting through whatever the unforgiving ocean could throw at it.

Before setting off, it’d also be a big help to know where you wanted to go, wouldn’t it? Sailing out into the deep blue yonder will no doubt get you somewhere different, but it’s kind of like playing darts blindfolded. How do you know where you end up will give you everything you’ve been looking for?

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” Jack Canfield

What is the comfort zone?

The answers to these two things – a strong, reliable ship and the right destination – can’t be found once you’ve already set sail. To have any chance of finding what you seek, they must be planned and built on the shore first using the sort of intimate self-knowledge and self-awareness only you can provide. The blueprint you end up with after going through such an exercise will define that beautiful, natural thing called your comfort zone. 

It’s who you are and what you do all day, every day, probably without even knowing; the tools, skills, strategies, and quirks you’ve expertly honed over the course of your life to cope with the challenges it has thrown at you and uphold important values along the way.

Despite what the self-help crowd will tell you, this isn’t a weakness to be disregarded. It’s a power…it’s YOUR power!

I have a very simple equation for this power and it goes something like this:

Your Power = WHAT You Do + HOW You Do It

I can help you figure this out in more detail, but for now think of it as the unique value you offer the world. A unique value that’s been forged IN your comfort zone over the course of your life.

Using your comfort zone to find happiness 

So now that you know what your comfort zone really is, what should you do with it? More importantly, how can it be used to find happiness?

Well, let’s return to the boat analogy once more. The fact that you’ve spent a little more time on the shore first understanding your unique value means you are in a much better position to be a SUCCESSFUL explorer rather than just another failed one.

By figuring out what it is you like doing and what it is you are good at, you have built a vessel that is fully prepared for the tests that lie ahead and can now pinpoint far-off places that promise greater riches.

Remember this: you’re not unhappy because of what you’re comfortable doing, you’re unhappy because you just haven’t found the right place to do it! The right job, the right hobby, the right cause – the right field of activity that rewards you for bringing whatever value you bring.   

With that in mind, the more accurate wisdom we all should be embracing when it comes to our comfort zones is to STAY in them. Don’t ever get out of them! Stay in your comfort zone with what you do (the ship), and only change where you do it (the destination).

Why do we hate the comfort zone?

To finish off, I want to quickly touch on why the comfort zone has such a bad rep in the first place. For me, I reckon it’s because its real meaning – the one I’ve defined here – has been slowly hijacked over time to become synonymous with laziness. 

If that’s what we’re talking about, then I couldn’t agree more. Laziness, boredom and lack of accountability are huge barriers to finding happiness in all its forms and, in these cases, the type of thinking by Robert Greene and all the other experts makes more sense. Trying to motivate people into action by throwing themselves at life and experiencing new things could give them the spark they need.   

But, once again, this type of thing has little to do with your comfort zone. In fact, it completely ignores the comfort zone I’m talking about here and slaps a band-aid on the problem rather than fixing the root cause.

The reality is, staying inside your comfort zone is definitely not about laziness or taking the easy option. Going deep inside yourself and facing the true nature of who you are is hard – so hard that not many people ever do it. Most fall for the trap of jumping into the first canoe they see.

Wayde Gniel is the creator of mysuperpower.online - a fast, real-world approach to creating a happier, more meaningful life. His natural affinity for exploring the unique value in people has been a constant theme in both his personal and professional lives. Born in Victoria, Australia, Wayde moved north to Queensland with his family where he happily lived and worked for 30 years.

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

By being aware of your emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, you can work with your internal and external environments

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The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

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Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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