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Discover the ultimate guide to growing in comfort by incorporating these simple strategies.

How To Grow In Comfort

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How To Grow (Without Leaving Your Comfort Zone)

“You have to get out of your comfort zone!” we are told, from cradle to grave.

When we are young, we are advised (or sometimes more forcefully instructed!) that we have to try new things. In our middle age, we are expected to be the world’s greatest go-getters, afraid of nothing and always pushing limits. And when we are old, people bid us “don’t be such a dinosaur”.

It is assumed, unquestioned, that growth can only occur through hardship and discomfort.

But what if that’s a discomforting lie?

Butler (2023) posited an idea: “We never achieve success faster and with less effort than when we are in our comfort zone”

Her words are an obvious callback to the ideas of Csikszentmihalyi (1970) in the sense of “flow”, in the sense in which that word is used in psychology.

Flow is: when a person is in a state of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment of an activity.

As a necessary truth (i.e: a function of syllogistic logic), the conditions of “in a state of flow” and “outside of one’s comfort zone” cannot overlap.

From there, we can further deduce (again by simple logic) that if flow can be found, and/but cannot be found outside of the comfort zone, then flow can only be found within the comfort zone.

That is indeed comforting, but what about growth?

Imagine you’ve never gone camping in your life, but you want to get outside of your comfort zone, and now’s the time to do it. So, you check out some maps of the Yukon, purchase some camping gear, and off you go into the wilderness. In the event that you survive to report it, you will indeed be able to say “it was not comfortable”.

But, did growth occur? Maybe, but… it’s a folly to say “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” as a reason to pursue such things. Firstly, there’s a high chance it may kill us. Secondly, what doesn’t kill us often leaves us incredibly weakened and vulnerable.

When Hannibal famously took his large army of mostly African mercenaries across the Alps during winter to march on Rome from the other side, he lost most of his men on the way, before proceeding to terrorize Northern Italy convincingly with the small remainder. But! Their hard experience hadn’t made them stronger; it had just removed the weaker soldiers, making the resultant formations harder to break.

All this to say, please do not inflict hardship and discomfort and danger in the hopes it’ll make you stronger; it will probably do the opposite.


If, instead of wilderness trekking in the Yukon…

  • You start off with a camper van holiday, then you’ll be taking a fair amount of your comfort with you. In effect, you will be stretching and expanding your comfort zone without leaving it.
  • Then maybe another year you might try camping in a tent on a well-catered camping site.
  • Later, you might try “roughing it” at a much less well-catered camping site.
  • And so on.

Congratulations, you have tried new things and undergone growth, taking your comfort zone with you all the way!

This is more than just “easing yourself into” something

It really is about taking your comfort with you too. If you want to take up running, don’t ask “how can I run just a little bit first” or “how can I make it easier” (well, feel free to ask those things too, but) ask yourself: how can I bring my comfort with me? Comfortable shoes, perhaps, an ergonomic water bottle, shade for your head, maybe.

❝Any fool can rough it, but a good soldier can make himself comfortable in any circumstances❞

~ British Army maxim

This goes for more than just physical stuff, too

If you want to learn a new skill, the initial learning curve can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you are taking a course and worried about keeping up or “not being good enough”.

So, “secretly” study in advance, at your leisure, get yourself a head start. Find a degree of comfort in what you’ve learned so far, and then bring that comfort with you into your entry-level course that is now less intimidating.

Discomfort isn’t a badge of honor (and impedes growth)

Take that extra rest stop on the highway. Bring your favorite coffee with you. Use that walking stick, if it helps.

Whatever it takes to bring your comfort with you, bring it.

Trust us, you’ll get further that way.

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