By Mary Jaksch
To be happy we need to find a balance between comfort and adventure. If our life is too predictable, it feels boring. If it’s too uncertain, it feels unsafe. How is your life? If you think of life as a continuum with ‘adventure’ at one end and ‘boredom’ at the other end, where would you place your life? Is it too predictable? Or too wild?
A quick way to find out is take a close look at one of your usual weekdays. Let’s say, you choose a Monday. Now jot down all the things you can reasonably expect to happen next Monday. When you compile your list, make sure to include any regular TV programs, such as the the news, shows, and so on. I think you’ll find that this particular day of the week is quite predictable. And maybe most of your days show a predictable pattern. Which means that they are comfortable. After all, human beings find comfort in what is predictable.
There is a fine line between comfort and boredom.
If you keep on living our life within predictable patterns, nothing new will develop. In term of spirituality, you will falter on your spiritual path if you don’t embrace the unknown.
Adding spice to life makes you happier
It’s important to get out of our comfort zone. For some people, just a little may be enough. Personally, I thrive on challenges. Each challenge allows me to develop my life further. But I am not without fear. I too have a built-in reluctance to embark on challenges – and that keeps me safe. However, too much reluctance can make for a boring life. Let’s take a look at the stumbling blocks to creating a life that rocks – and how to overcome them:
- The initial fear
“I can’t do it. It’s too difficult!” This is a natural response to every new challenge. How does one deal with such negative thoughts? My trick is to say first of all: “Yep. I’ll do it.” This is how you invite the adventure. (Tip: say “Yes” before your rational mind kicks in with, “Are you crazy?!”) For example, next time someone asks you, “We’re forming a fun football team. Do you want to join?” simply say, “Yes!” – even if you’ve never played before. Worry about it later!
- Feeling overwhelmed
“It’s too big. I’ll never complete it.” This is a natural response to a challenge. It’s not a real challenge if it doesn’t feel too big. A good way to overcome this fear is to break down the challenge into manageable steps. For example, let’s say that you have decided to run a half-marathon in six months time. If you have never run before, this would seem impossible. However, to start out walking for 1 kilometre and jogging for 100 metres may feel possible. Make a plan of small steps towards your challenging goal.
- The mid-way slump
“I’m not really enjoying this. I think I’ll flag it.” This is a natural phase in your undertaking. Expect it and you won’t be sidetracked. Every challenge starts out with reluctance, and then excitement. About mid-way there is a slump in motivation. Then there can be an upsurge in confidence as your skill level increases. Right before completion is another difficult phase.
- Dropping out before the end
“I can’t finish it. It’s taking too much of my energy.” I saw a statistic that 90% of all people quit a project before finishing. That’s right: only 10% complete! I’m not really surprise because I know from experience how difficult it is to finish. Right now, for example, I’m in the last phase of completing my E-book. If I listened to my self-talk, I would put it aside and not complete it. The kind of thoughts my mind produces at this stage are: “I just can’t pull it off'”, “It’s too difficult”, “It’s not good enough”, “I haven’t got time”, and so on. The way past this barrier is to be encouraging. Point out to yourself what you’ve done so far and that your close to the finish line: “Only a few steps to go now!” Map out a path to completion that seems manageable.
- Celebrate the completion!
It’s important to stop and celebrate with others when you have completed your challenging project. Thank yourself for following through, despite all the difficulties. Enjoy your new-found skills. Each completed challenge will enrich our life and open new doors.
What’s your experience of this? Do you have any tips about taking on challenges? Please share them with us in a comment.