A Comfortable Place

I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of the ‘comfort zone’, and the advice we often receive to “step out of it!” Sometimes our reluctance to change a routine or habit can get in the way of moving forward to create positive change — but comfort is also a place of stability, ease, and understanding, and can be a source of strength for us and for others. How then, do we challenge ourselves to stretch the boundaries ? Two recent (and minor) changes in my surroundings have reminded me that simple adjustments are an easy start. The first nudge out of my routine was the addition of multiple stop signs in the immediate area around my home. I was personally thrilled, as I live on a relatively busy street and have long wished for traffic to be slowed…but what a ruckus it caused in the community! Everyone was buzzing about the new traffic stops, and how they didn’t like them — including me, as I continued to feel startled by this altered driving pattern. Seems silly…A few weeks later, I’m used to the new stops, and don’t think twice. I had a similar reaction to the most recent iPhone update, which forced a change from the ingrained finger-swipe-to-the-right to a button press (why, Apple, why?). It took a few weeks for the new motion to become second nature, and was a real reminder of how deeply rooted routines can be. So while I embrace comfort and the feeling of fulfillment it brings- I want to continue to look for ways to challenge the habits that rule the everyday. Research shows that to build new neural pathways in our brains we need to switch things up, so I am committed to trying a few new things to interrupt some familiar patterns. Here are a few suggestions to ‘switch it up’ in your own life, and create some new neural pathways!

· Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.

· Turn off lights in your home with your non-dominant hand

· Change a familiar route to a less traveled one… and don’t always rely on GPS

· Read a magazine you never thought you would pick up. (popular mechanics?)

· Try a new form of exercise (make it really different) Exercise at a different time of day. Don't bring your cell phone. ;)