Does life feel a little samey sometimes? Do you feel you’re stuck in a bit of a rut? When was the last time you knew you were truly happy? It could be time to pluck up some courage and do something totally new. Taking on challenges and stepping outside of your comfort zone can feel scary – and while it’s part and parcel of being young, it’s easy to believe that being older and wiser gives you an excuse to avoid stressful situations and daring moments entirely.
According to experts, that’s not a good idea. Not only do new challenges change things up a bit and make life exciting, the buzz you get from having dared to do something new is one sure path to happiness. Research shows that women, while bold in social situations (it’s more likely to be women than men who express controversial opinions in work meetings), are far less likely than men to take recreational risks. And, we’re missing out!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone – we’re designed to push ourselves because that’s when we grow,” Susanna Halonen, a.k.a. the Happyologist, a happiness coach and author of ‘Screw Finding Your Passion’ says “You are at your best, and happiest, when you are growing.”
Positive Psychologist Itai Itzvan, from the University of East London, agrees. “You might feel nervous before a new event, but if you measure levels of self confidence, courage, hope and strength at the beginning of the day, and then again, after you’ve taken the risk, you’d see the levels go up. These qualities are so important for our wellbeing.”
Here’s a few ideas of ways to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, whatever your age:
In fact, doing something different that’s been inspired by your partner, children or close friends can be really great for your relationships too. “Being invited by others who are meaningful to us, to move outside our comfort zone is very helpful to our relationships,” Dr Ivtzan says. “One of the most interesting variables in healthy romantic relationships is whether couples encourage each other to move out of their comfort zones,” he adds. “We find that if couples support each other in new experiences, it leads to greater trust, warmth and communication.”
What are you waiting for? Let us know which leaps you’re taking outside of your comfort zone in the comments below.