People who regularly go to the gym to exercise often talk about how addictive it is. The physiological effects of the endorphins are well understood. Exercise is not only good for you, it makes you feel good too.
Non-physical exercise can also be addictive – you only have to ask a crossword or Sudoku enthusiast to confirm this.
But how about stretching? Stretching outside of our comfort zones? The concept of a comfort zone has become so ingrained in our modern “management speak” that we seldom give it the time or respect it deserves. And we tend to see it in a negative sense rather than a positive one. By definition it is uncomfortable to step outside one’s comfort zone. Why would one choose to do that, and what are the possible benefits?
We raise our pain threshold. Comfort zones are elastic, and they stretch with experience. What was once painful becomes less painful with practice. The effects are cumulative, delivering ever-increasing benefit over time.
We better understand ourselves. By pushing our personal boundaries to beyond where we start to feel uncomfortable, we recalibrate our understanding of the pain vs gain trade-off. The gain becomes more attractive, and the pain more bearable.
We increase our levels of confidence. As we better understand ourselves, we learn how much risk we are taking when we go beyond the threshold. And that in turn increases our level of confidence, giving us encouragement to do it again.
We achieve more. As we venture outside our comfort zone, more becomes possible. We surprise ourselves – and others. And as others see it working for us, they feel encouraged to do the same and the effects multiply.
By sticking within our comfort zone, we impose limits on what we can achieve. The comfort deceives us and conspires to keep us there. Over time, it becomes ever harder to contemplate stepping outside it, further limiting what we can achieve.
Stretching is good. It can take us to the place where the magic happens. So… stretch! See how much you learn about yourself; see how much easier it becomes to do again; surprise yourself and others, and see how much more you achieve – it’s addictive!