Human beings are creatures of habit. I’m no exception to that. In fact, I’m probably much worse than you are. I spent years of my life doing the same stuff and being frustrated that nothing had changed. Ever since around the time I started this blog, I’ve been making some changes in my life. And you guys have been reading all about it (I appreciate that, by the way). But it isn’t easy, and I’m not expecting things to be completely different overnight.
I still have off days. I still have days where I sit around knowing I should start writing my next post, but don’t. There are still plenty of days where I’m not the positive, energetic, upbeat person that I want to be. But that’s okay. I’m focused on progress, not perfection. And I am making progress. I think.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.
This quote sums it up perfectly, in my opinion. There are a lot of days where I feel perfectly content to sit around and watch TV shows or movies or play video games. But then I remind myself that I’ve done lots of that, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. And after all of that, I’ve realized something: one thing that’s necessary in self improvement is getting out of your comfort zone. And here’s why.
Confronting your fears weakens them
When you take the time to do things you’re scared of, you often realize that they weren’t so scary to begin with. We take things that we think will be bad, and we build them up more and more in our heads. We build them up until they become these giant monsters that we don’t think we can handle. But when we head straight for the things that make us uncomfortable, more often than not we find that they aren’t so scary after all.
For example, I used to be scared to talk to anybody that I didn’t know. I was a very shy person. But then I got a job in sales, and it forced me to not only talk to people but to do it skillfully. I’m not the best salesman, but one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t sell something to someone you don’t know at least a little bit. You have to form the beginnings of a relationship with someone. Be their friend. And no, I don’t just pretend to like people so they’ll buy stuff. I genuinely try to make friends with the customers I work with, so that they’ll be comfortable around me and I can find out what they need and help them find it.
The moral of the story is, now I’m not scared of talking to strangers. If I want to talk to someone new, I go up and talk to them. When my friends run into someone they know, I don’t hesitate to jump into the conversation and introduce myself instead of awkwardly watching them talk. Then maybe I make a new friend. It’s funny how that works.
Stagnation is bad for your brain
Like I said, we’re creatures of habit. When we get in the habit of doing the same things, over and over again, we lose the ability and the confidence to do new things. When you’re not learning and exploring every day, your brain goes into autopilot and stops growing.
I mentioned in my post about quitting weed that I started to feel foggy every day. I blamed that on the weed affecting my brain long-term. And while that may be partly true, I think the stagnation was also contributory. I did the same things every day. I never learned and grew. My brain stopped trying, because I wasn’t expecting much from it. I was suppressing thoughts more often than I was encouraging them, so my brain stopped thinking so much.
You’ll see new solutions to your problems
When you challenge yourself, and experience new things, you’ll learn to see things from different angles. You can look at a problem the same way for years and not see a solution. But the second you think about it from a different frame of mind, you’ll find answers that weren’t there before.
Doing things you’ve never done, talking to people that you’d never talk to normally, reading things that you wouldn’t normally read. Those are all things that expand your ways of thinking. And when your mindset changes, you’ll see your problems in new ways. And that can make all the difference.
You’ll gain new perspectives on the world
Experiencing a wide variety of things will help you pick up on patterns you didn’t know where there.
Here’s a fun fact: when I was younger, I was oblivious to the world around me. Here are two big examples: hospitals and gas stations. I thought those places existed for the good of the people. I thought it “wasn’t fair” when gas prices rose during the summer when people were more willing to buy gas. The more I’ve read about business, the more obvious it’s gotten that almost everything exists to make money.
Gas stations raise their prices because they want to increase profits, and they know people will pay more during the months when it’s more fun to travel. Hospitals are expensive because they’re corporations and they exist to make a profit. I thought doctors got paid so well because they saved lives, but that isn’t true. They get paid so well because hospitals can charge a fortune to anybody who gets to talk to one. Don’t get me wrong. I know doctors save lives. I’m not against doctors, and I respect the good that they do.
You’ve made it this far, so I’m going to reward you with a short story. It was a few years ago. I had just gone through a breakup. I was in pain. Nothing I was doing was working for me, and I didn’t know what to do. So I went out and bought a motorcycle. I had never ridden before, and I rode that baby home from the dealership all the way across town with only a very basic understanding of the controls and literally no practical experience. Almost three years later, and I’m a dude with an awesome motorcycle and it brings me joy every single day. I never would have known that joy if I hadn’t done something that was outside of my comfort zone. And yes, that’s a picture of me up at the top of this page. Hi.
Go out there. Do something new. It’ll be good for you. It might be scary, but nothing worth doing isn’t a little bit scary in the beginning. Keep at it. It’ll be worth it, I promise.
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