This fun little toy (below) sits on my desk. When you press a button it says this:

 

Outside the BoxAfter the laughing dies down, your mind is likely to wander with random thoughts like: “Man it would stuck to live in a box!” or “Now that’s a lack of vitamin D!” or my favorite “Boy, my Chiropractor would be upset at me for ruining my posture”.

Do you want to pay it forward today by helping this sad little man out of his box? Great! Then let’s do this thing. Ok here goes…

The box door is open. He looks at the door and  steps out stumbling. His legs are wobbly from lack of use. He shivers as if to say it’s cold outside of the box.  He takes a few more steps and looks around. He doesn’t see anyone or anything familiar – he feels alone. After 5 minutes he looks back at the box – with a bit of longing for the familiar. Maybe he stays out of his box for 5 minutes, 8 hours, a week or 26 days. But he reaches a pivotal point where he just can’t do it anymore and he submits to what he remembers as a cozy warm box and climbs back in.

Are you shaking your head right now?  Poor sad little guy. Before you judge him too harshly, isn’t this really what we do when we try to change – if we get real honest with ourselves? We struggle to find our way. We struggle to understand our true identity, and separate the truth from the lies about who we were born to be.  It’s easier to stay where we are, not risk too much, not venture out too far.

Even if the box is stifling and restrictive, we are familiar with it. And we have let the lies that box us in become our friend. We have believed that the risk carries a higher cost than comfort. So there we are stuck in our comfort zone…it’s like a drug.

Why do we do this? Maybe it’s because once we’re outside we don’t know how to walk in our own uniqueness. No one can really tell us how to be ourselves or do the work for us. No one has gone before us on our own journey except for the future us.

We try going it alone, to be strong, to be brave. And like this sad little man we are stricken with self-doubt each step into the unknown. Every time things don’t go as planned, we crawl back into the box. If our feelings get hurt, if we fail, or if we’re exhausted, our instinct is to go back in. Overtime we, become demoralized, give up, and simply start rationalizing that things aren’t so bad.

How do we stop this madness? The answer is that we learn to live and enjoy life outside of our comfort zone; outside of the box we created.  Here are 3 Reasons to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone. I use them myself to stay positive, to keep learning, to keep getting back up and innovating after life didn’t work out as planned:

  1. Opportunity: Opportunity lives outside of your comfort zone. You can only see what’s possible when you open doors. And since you can’t see from a closed box, the first door you need to open is your own. Try new things, enter into new conversations, go to new places, have deeper conversations, ask more questions, eat different foods, park in a different spot etc. Try it all.
  1. Freedom: Once you’re outside your box, you’ll have freedom from your “shoulds”. You can carve your own road and create a space where you can be creative. Use your passion for good, to dream, and to live. These actions are exhilarating and life-altering. Remind yourself that you’d rather live out loud than be comfortable.
  1. Community: This is two-fold – you need others, and others need you. We were not created to be isolated. And it doesn’t help anyone if you are not who you were created to be. Your growth and change, from the inside out, benefits yourself and society. And you can’t have community if we are all behind closed doors shut in boxes.

What can you do today to start enjoying life outside of your comfort zone?

Copyright 2014, Mary R Miller