I saw a meme the other day that said:
“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone”
I have to disagree. I have to reject the idea that I am in a state of wanting and that I will have to be uncomfortable, seemingly interminably.
The quickest way to happiness is to want what you already have.
Sure, there will always be more to aim for but I believe this is best achieved from a place of grateful contentment.
I know that the sentiment that was intended by the statement that everything you want is just outside your comfort zone, was one of motivation and encouragement to be bold, brave and adventurous. Take risks and try new things. With that I agree wholeheartedly. But let’s use those words or something like them that feels good to you.
Recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about the words we use in our own heads and out loud. Words evoke feelings - that is their power. And our feelings drive our actions. Important then, to put a bit of thought into what we say and how we say it.
Rather than saying everything you want is outside your comfort zone let's say something like:
I am bold, brave and adventurous
Everything I want comes to me
Doesn’t that feel better?
Trying something new, or going through something challenging is going to feel a bit uncomfortable, awkward perhaps. Coming from a positive mindset of grace and gratitude rather than of want and struggle gives us a far greater chance of success.
The giraffe is my new mascot for this idea. Spending a month painting them gave me a fond appreciation for the way they seem to blend awkwardness and grace so masterfully.
A giraffe is a glorious feat of anatomical engineering. The thing that makes the giraffe unique, different and amazing also makes it rather awkward in many situations.
To dip your head into the watering hole is a simple thing for most of its other bush companions but the giraffe has had to inventively learn to straddle their legs to do this. It’s a mental picture that has stayed with me this month as I painted them.
If you can’t do something the way others seem to do it, maybe that’s okay - you’ll find your own way. That’ll work too.
Those long legs seem so delicate to be carrying around that towering structure, I always think. It looks so ungainly. And then you see the giraffe break into a gentle canter and all awkwardness is gone, there is such grace in the motion. Much like the undulating serpentine sweep of the neck as the giraffe moves its head around.
Perhaps the blend of awkwardness and grace is something that all creatures contend with. Things within the comfort zone and things just beyond it. But I cannot subscribe to the idea everything has to be ‘uncomfortable’.
We do our best when we feel good. In that state we do better at creative thinking and problem solving. We are a bit more resilient and resourceful. When we try to force ourselves to do something terribly uncomfortable by sheer strength of will we are not at our best.
Taking on a bit of a challenge is great, but we do have to be able to feel good about it in some way if we are to have any hope of being successful at it. A mindset of force and struggle and hustle does not predispose us to success.
This whole comfort zone idea really explains a lot about why I choose to work in these monthly series, come to think of it.
You see I realised some time ago that in staying with a subject and a medium for a while (ie working in a series) is really important for giving yourself a chance to practice learn and get better at something. But, if I stuck with one subject I know I would be bored and stagnant before too long.
So for me these monthly series are my way of stepping out of my comfort zone at the start of each month, and then giving myself the rest of the month to become increasingly comfortable.
I want to feel at ease, and competent at what I’m doing. In fact I need it, don't we all?
It is during these times that you build trust in yourself that there are things that you are good at, that you are capable and proficient. This trust is the basis of the self belief you need when you do step outside your comfort zone. It gives you some foundation for backing yourself in a new endeavour.
Such memories are important when you clamber awkwardly into something new.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is all very well - every so often.
But moments of comfortable competence are to be savoured too.