Life in a Comfort zone: Happy or just Comfortable?

If you are anyway like me, you are guilty of becoming comfortable in not so comfortable situations. The reason being: we resist change. We become used to a routine, living in a certain way and then when change knocks at our door, we freak out. We refuse to open the door and embrace the new. We cling to our comfort zones for as long as we can until our inside voice or the outside circumstances push us enough to dive into the change.

The latest turn of  events in my life is the proof of my response to change- Our landlord declared that she wants to sell the house we are living in, and my reaction was- “AAAAGH! This can’t be happening! I’ve got comfortable in this house, and I do not want the pain of house search, the move, and then the re-settling.

I moped on the situation for over a week until I talked myself out of it and realized that this is a great opportunity to find a house with a bigger closet, and no scorpions. For long I had kept section of my wardrobe packed in a suitcase, and finding a new place with a bigger closet is the chance for those suffocated clothes to taste fresh air .

The metamorphosis of my inner dialogue turned me into being enthusiastic about finding a new abode.

Inner dialogues are an intrinsic part of our everyday life. These conversations either push us to adapt to change or convince us that we are comfortable in our existing situations, be it about hitting the gym, trying a new craft, changing food habits, wake up/sleep routine, starting a business and so on. More often than not, the voice of comfort wins the argument.

Moreover, if you reflect on our status quo, you would realize that you are NOT all that happy being in the so called comfort zone. Take for example any of these everyday life situations-

Inside voice: Hey, you! 
You've been sitting comfortably on that chair for an extensive time, 
following the same daily routine of waking up in the morning and sipping on your coffee. Why don't you get your act together and join your 
buddies for the 5:00 am run?

Nah! I am good. I am not out of shape, so why take extra pain to get up 
early and change my routine. I am comfortable!

But won't you miss the morning fresh air, the cardio, and the 
socializing? You might not need the coffee after all.

Shush! Mind you I am not indolent, I have a long day ahead!

 

Inside voice: Hey listen! You have been in this dysfunctional 
relationship for so long.Isn't it time to get out of the rut and give 
yourself another chance?

I am used to it now! Known evil is better than the unknown!

But, you would never find out what is in store for you, until you leave 
this familiar territory.

I am good. I have spent years with this person. I am used to this 
person now.

 

Inside voice: You've been slogging for years doing this 
office job. You have to stay late, miss on the family times, and it's   been long since you've taken a vacation. Isn't it time to say quits to  your workplace and find something that is a better fit?

Not really! This job is working for me. I have loans to pay off, and thisjob gives me a good salary. I know how the system works here and people 
respect me. It is not always that I have to do late nights or miss on thefamily occasions. 

But don't you want to learn something new? You might like that better. 

I will have to spend time in creating my reputation in the new workplace.I have a secure job and I am not comfortable leaving it.
Inside Voice:Hey listen you! Are you excited about your move to a new 
city? You will  see new landscapes, and make new friends.

Not really, I like it here! I have my friend circle, so what if that 
circle is empty most of the times. I know the people and places around 
here. I am settled.

But you are not a tree! You can move. You might end up liking the new 
place better. You might make stronger bonds, find great 
neighbors and get to try new adventures.

Leave me alone. I feel like being depressed about leaving this place. I 
just do.

Another great recent example is that of my friend who continued in his unfulfilled and dry job for decades, on the pretext of  security and comfort. Then one day he was let go which suddenly freed him from his illusionary comfort. Little he could do to shield himself from the change he’d been resisting for years! After the initial phase of discomfort of finding a job, he is now happy in his newly created comfort zone.

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Give CHANGE a CHANCE!

It is the fear of unknown that holds us back in taking risks and trying new horizons. On the contrary it is also true that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush. So what should you do? Stick to the familiar or take risk and try new avenues.

The answer lies in asking the question- Are you happy or just comfortable? If you are not happy, you know that it is time to test new waters. After all,  ‘a bird in the hand is good, but a bird in the bush might sing.’

 

Photo credit: Wiertz Sébastien via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Brace yourself! Negativity ahead

Beep beep! My negativity meter turned red this week as I was inundated by someone’s brash behavior. Along with it came the symptoms of choked throat, frozen creativity, restless mind and agitation that came out on my kids. Though I am glad that I do not deal with these personalities often, but when encountered I am drained of my positivity, and then I look for ways to get my balance back. I lost two days delving into the happenings, and to get a grip around the entire episode.

The fact remains that we all have to deal with such unwanted behaviors and personalities be it in our work, relations or at times strangers who seem to pay us a visit just to disrupt the peace. Some of us are better equipped to deal with negativity, while some sensitive souls like me get easily sucked into the negative field. This was one such episode for me, and here are some techniques that I deploy, to recover from the negative encounter, while some work better than the other, and some others work great cumulatively-

Running/ Cardio exercise

In order to stimulate my under stress nervous system, I like to indulge in some heart pumping exercise-running and Zumba being my two favorites. Running is a recent habit that I imbibed from my lady friends in the neighborhood.

I find clarity when I am alone with my thoughts, and running gives me that solitude to reflect. Running to me is like a meditation on an accelerated mode, and more often than not, I emerge happy and grounded.

By the same token, the fun and exhilarating moves of the Zumba class are enough to pump up my feel good endorphins, thus melt away any stress.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is an instant method to calm my thoughts, and the best part is that it can be practiced any time and anywhere. Inhale deeply and let the air out through the mouth- it works better when you exhale with a deep sigh, eyes closed imagining that you are letting go of all the negativity in the air.

And after 10 such breaths, be ready to embrace a lighter you!

Meditation

I do not meditate often, but being aware of its positive effects I decided to indulge in meditation that restless night. So, I let the meditation app guide me as I followed the instructions to breath deeply and relax. stress free zoneI became aware of the sounds around me like that of the clock ticking in my room and my kid’s breathing next to me.  Before I knew, I felt refreshed as if my soul just had a facial.

Distractions like TV and video games

In order to keep my mind off the dreaded incident, I ended up watching several episodes of a soap opera that I have been following. And yes, it diverted me temporarily from the happenings, but when I switched it off, my thoughts swayed back into the mess.

Even though this technique does not provide a permanent stress relief, I still tend to use it to keep me entertained and occupied for the time being.

Writing

When using writing as a therapy, I pen with all my might and emotions about the episode – the stronger my feelings, the faster I write! This is an objective way to find clarity, and clear the negative chatter inside.

You do not have to use ornamental words when writing for self, just let your thoughts run along with the pen, and then there will be a moment when you have nothing more to vent. At that instance you will find yourself better centered, and ready to get back into your life.

Music

Listening to music is yet another form of therapy to keep your mind engaged, and to get you back into your rhythm.

My choice of music is closely alligned with my mental orientation- when I am swamped with work, I prefer fast beat, when in blue I prefer soft . But ‘Yanni’ is my all time favorite. I find his music serene and calming….always.

Count thy blessings

When I feel miserable, I gently direct myself to look at the sunny side, and turn on the gratitude mode. And then I discover not one, but countless blessings that I need to be thankful for. Suddenly the negativity looks minuscule in the vast universe of abundance, and the difficulties seem to fade away.

I have also dedicated an article previously about the importance of gratitude in our daily lives- https://ipenlife.com/2015/11/22/attitude-of-gratitude/

Awareness and Intention 

Lastly, the most important of all the steps is the awareness, that I was gripped by negative energy, which made me feel stifled and agitated. So, I slept with an intention to wake up happy and move on with my life.

After a good night sleep, this morning I woke up fresh, and ready to grab the world again. Then I wrote this post.:-)

I am happy to report that I have successfully neutralized negativity, and my friends, when next time you encounter one, make sure you do not stay in that state of mind for long. Use the techniques that work best to get you back into your positive self. Do not waste yourself overthinking about the negative behavior of others, as this kind of behavior is rarely about you, and more about the person spreading the negativity. Remember, the important thing is to get yourself together again, and keep moving ahead!

Photo credit: The Waterboy via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: thornypup via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND