Vintage surf photo | Photographer unknown.

Vintage surf photo | Photographer unknown.

A Case for stepping outside your comfort zone

“The desire for security and the fear of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the desire for security is nothing but a breath retention contest in which everyone is tight as a drum and purple as a beet.” – Alan Watts


For some people risk is a no-brainer. They take risks all the time and as a result they live lush and thrilling lives filled with adventures and opportunities to grow. For others risk, change, the unknown … are terrifying. There are a myriad of potential reasons, both psychological and biological that account for what leads us to being one type of person rather the other; both have too many possible permutations to effectively address here. Instead, let’s focus on a solution, the hint of which lies in our first sentence: For some people risk is a no-brainer. A no-brainer; literally. Think about it. No wait: don’t think about it … If you’re in the latter category, over-thinking is likely one of your problems.

You see what we’re getting at, right? Taking a risk is easier if you don’t think about it. Now, we’re obviously not encouraging extreme behavior, we’re not suggesting you take the risk of jumping out the window to see if you can fly without some modicum of forethought, all we’re saying is start adopting an attitude toward stepping outside of your comfort zone that is led more by heart than by head. As creatives, the vivid imaginations that serve us so well in our artistic pursuits can inadvertently turn against us in such instances. We’re so wildly proficient in creating myriad alternate ideas and scenarios that our extreme inventiveness, when negatively channeled into anxiety about the future, can act as a powerful catalyst to transmute creative thinking into catastrophic thinking. The amount of potential nightmare outcomes we are able to come up with related to one particular ‘risk’, if transcribed, could fill a library. Speaking of libraries… How many books have never been written because someone was too afraid to try? How many potential discoveries have been left unexplored because of the fear of going that extra mile in the unknown territory?

As you read this, you know you have at least one thing that you have always wanted to do, but you’re scared shitless to try it. Likely you’ve thought about it a million times and talked yourself out of it a million times. But consider this: life is not about safety. Life is about contrast. Without pain we wouldn’t know pleasure, without cold, we wouldn’t know heat, etc. Life is about overcoming our self-imposed limiting fears and embracing contrast and risk in order to access our vitality.

 noun \vī-ˈta-lə-tē\
 - a lively or energetic quality
 - the power or ability of something to continue to live, be successful, etc.
 - capacity to live and develop; also : physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed
 - power of enduring
 - the peculiarity distinguishing the living from the nonliving

It’s that simple: without vitality there is no life, our dynamic system stagnates and rots. Life is about harnessing that unseen energy that shoots up the stem of a flower and explodes it into bloom, it’s about tapping into the force that curls ocean water into giant waves that inspire wonder as they crash onto our shores. That energy is always there for you, it is eager to fill your sails and propel you wherever you want to go. But first you must find it, and as it is scientifically accepted that inertia and movement are antithetical to each other, in order to tap into vitality, your analysis paralysis has to go. So release your fearful grip on life, observe the joy you experience as your white knuckles relax and grow pink again. Turn off the volume of your chatting naysayer of a ‘rational’ mind, follow your heart and ride easy in saddle, gallop towards the zone of infinite possibility that lies just outside the stale confines of your comfort.


M.U. 2014

Published: April 14th, 2014

Leave a Reply