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Why Being Comfortable Isn’t Always Good

This post was originally published on Mairead Kelly’s blog

Ask anyone what they want in life and the chances are the replies will go along the lines of “to be happy”. Happiness is an emotional state and I can teach you how to be happy right now if you wanted.

However, like all emotional states it’s transient and that is a good thing. If we were to stay in the same emotional state all the time our ability to deal with life’s issues would not function as well as it could.

When we start to make changes in our lives it is because we are not comfortable with where we currently are. As teenagers we want to get out there and explore the opportunities that are our’s for the taking.

As young adults we experience paid employment and all the financial freedoms and responsibilities that it brings. As we mature as adults we want to find a mate, settle down, start a family and continue our family lines.

Often though, at different stages in our lives we can get nicely comfortable and decide we’d like things to stay just as they are. For a while that is great, after a while though, things can get stagnant and we can become stuck in a rut.

We are comfortable to a degree, yet we are not progressing as much as the people we share our lives with are and can often feel as though we are being left behind or abandoned.

We either ignore it hoping they will return to their old self, or seriously resist the changes that are taking place preferring the comfort of what we already know. Yet we still don’t want to change. As humans we tend not to like change, or rather sudden changes.

We don’t notice the gradual ones and the sudden hit you in the face ones can leave us feeling very defensive or vulnerable.

That is why being comfortable is not always a good thing. We tend to live our lives within two self-imposed boundaries. Some people call it the grey area, or the comfort zone. So long as our lives continue within these lines, life is fine, boring maybe, but comfortable.

Every now and again our life will take a sudden dip and drop us to a horribly uncomfortably negative place, like job insecurity, an illness, a huge relationship row or something along those lines and we scramble to get back above the base line.

Sometimes however we really take a big dip like a relationship break-up, a death in the family, a job loss and it takes a bit longer to get back over the base line again.

Other times we do something that reaps huge rewards, like win a fairly large sum of money, buy our first house far away from where we grew up, land a promotion and that takes us up over the ceiling line.

We feel uncomfortable and scramble to get back below it, so we blow the money, feel isolated and lonely and sell up instead of making new friends, or we decline the promotion.

It is by pushing through the ceiling of our comfort zone daily and getting used to a little bit of discomfort that we develop as humans, and that type of change we are easily able for.

What can you do that can push you past the boundaries of your comfort zone and move you forward? I’d love to hear the different ways you achieve this.

Mairéad Kelly developed the Cute Honey System - Business training, coaching & mentoring for Mumpreneurs & Mum Biz Owners who want to buzz their business into a hive of productivity while raising young children & often can’t get out to training events, morning or evening network events due to family commitments and/or a lack of finances.

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  • Great post Mairead, I couldn’t agree with you more. If to grow is to change, if change makes us feel uncomfortable, then we must proactively seek out those things that give us discomfort. Try something new, put ourselves in the shoes of the other, change our situation by changing ourselves etc.

  • The 4 C’s of change dictate that we never stay in one zone. For this reason, being content becomes comfortable, and comfortable then becomes stale. For this process to work, we need time.nnSo when we get a great job, we are content and happy, after a while we become comfortable, and invariably bored. So, like Niall says below, it is time to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and challenge ourselves. nBy challenging, we become innovative, and move into the creative zone. We create or find something new, and after a while are content again. Contentment becomes comfortable, and we begin the process again.nI am lucky, where despite being uncomfortable with the idea of change, anxious about changing, and nervous about the outcome, I will still push myself in some direction. It is not always the right direction, but sure that’s the living part :)nProcrastination and distraction are with us all to some extent, the trick is to put things in place to move ourselves forward, even though we try to hold ourselves back. And such is living… never a dull moment.nnGreat post – thanks Mairead )

  • Mark

    Great article and it got me thinking about how CHANGE has developed into a ‘fearful’ word for people – especially in the business world, as it means doing something different, being exposed to new ways of working or being. With the relative insecurity of working for a company, change can make people feel more on edge.nnTo break through this ceiling and living more with uncomfortably, it normally takes small steps to get things going. It can be as simple as wearing something very different (to your norm) or even playing music that’s not your normal listening pleasure, that helps you feel different and therefore act differently.nnFor me it’s about being different as often as I can – so calling people instead of emailing them – it generally gets better results. I’m about to record my first ever video blog post – haven’t got a clue how it will work out but am feeling the discomfort about doing it – and going to do it anyway. I know I’ll smile when I look back from the other side of this self-imposed wall.

  • Hi Mariead, your post is so relevant to where we are as a nation today. There are many people who are experiencing the ‘busted comfort zone’ and are really having to push through new limits to ‘reframe’ their lives at the moment. Moving out of one’s comfort zone is hard, having no control over having to move out of it is even harder but neither impossible. Mindset is key. My story is that I totally reached outside my comfort zone for many reasons, moved jurisdictions, left high flying corporate job, moved the family, went out in business myself and all this to a country and in a country that is in a very difficult economic place at the moment, Ireland. Finding a new comfort zone is hard but what I have loved about the challenge [and it is a tough one] is that I (and my family) feel alive and we love living new things every day. I found that my old life got in the way of living. Loved your post :)n

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Thank you for including me!

    It was great reading the different experiences of Irish-ness. I found myself smiling and nodding me head as I read through everything.

  • Warren Rutherford

    Sian – nicely done. As one with a Scottish name, Italian, Dutch, and Irish heritage I enjoyed reading the mix of nationalities weigh in on being Irish.  Too often in the States you find a veritable melting pot of nationalities in people that can tend to obscure their most influential culture. 

  • I love this post Sian, as an Irish woman living in France (Paris) for 11 years now there is much that I miss about Ireland, and some parts that I don’t.  I have adapted to my foster home of France but yet find I’m ‘just an expat’ but when I come home to Ireland I often feel that I’m ‘just a tourist’…

    I guess I live in that twilight world between two cultures, loving and missing the parts that speak to my soul in equal measure.

    Something which I do dislike is that as an expat (despite living, working, paying taxes etc) I have no vote on the future of France but as an expat I also cannot go to my Irish embassy in Paris and vote for the Irish future either.  Basically I have no voice.

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