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Comfort Zone Breaking

He’s everyone’s favorite voice on the radio. Nile FM’s Mohamed Safi – more commonly known as just ‘Safi’ – is a thrill-seeking, culture-curious, bongo-playing, golden-oldies-loving philanthropist.

Fresh from his craziest adventure yet – cross-country racing in a tuktuk across northern India for charity – he’s embarking on a new series of articles exclusively for CairoScene.  Safi is asking us to take a good hard look at  ourselves and GET REAL…  

This is not a self-help guide, or any form of guide for that matter. This is not “telling you what to do” or how to do it. This is not how you should live your life, or any of that patronizing hullabaloo. This is a mere observation of the human condition, an attempted translation of a cross section of that, into words that may or may not, bear meaning to you.

Most of us live our lives chasing titles, packages, members of the opposite gender, and status defined by material possessions, cars, houses, the hottest big boy or big girl trend of the moment. We are all consumer machines in a world run by the corporation and its fictitious binary scoring system, which tells you how many loyalty points you’ve amassed in the “what you got defines you” scale.  We do not seek to “be”, we now live to “have”.

Many fail to see the world of difference between “having” a husband/wife and “being” married. While the first is a pure possession and desired ownership, the latter is an expression of sharing, and an unintended realization of “I do not own this person, I am with them.”  If you really look at it, you’ll find that most relationship problems stem from the fact that partners wish to “have” one another, in every sense of the word. Jealousy is, in essence, fear of losing what is “yours” or wanting to have what is “not yours”.

The same have/be dichotomy applies to pretty much every aspect in life. Those kids in class that desire to “have” and possess ownership of all the knowledge and info, versus those who wish to “be” the information and really suck that knowledge in.  The desire to “have” a moment by clicking furiously at a camera so you’ll always have that point in time as a digital possession, versus just taking a mental picture. The person who would pluck a flower out of the soil to admire its beauty versus one who would observe its glory from afar. While both got the final beautiful flowery outcome, someone’s possessive drive drove them to literally kill it, by plucking it out of the ground.

I intend to blather on further about this “have vs. be” concept at a later time, but the reason I’ve blabbered about it thus far is to define the “be” as a mode of living. Understanding the “be” is an essential pre-requisite to breaking out of your comfort zone, that drab form of existence that many of us complain about on a daily basis. Its nomenclature in itself is flawed, as the word “comfort” is now given to an excitement-free state of sedentary life. A life where your couch, laptop, social media and TV take precedence over nature, activity and constantly pushing yourself to the brink of your limits… only to find that you’ve still got more.

Now, if as an adult, you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that living in a comfort zone is the way to be, then that’s perfectly fine. Your lethargy towards life is needed to attain a cosmic balance. If everyone decided to break out of the zone, the world would become an exciting place for all, which would only mean people would eventually chase boredom and routine as a naturally driven balancing act. So if you have no desire to break away from a life of couch, Kardashians and cupcakes, don’t you dare let anyone stop you. “Be” what you want to “be”.

On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly questioning your comfort zone, and seeking ways to break out of it, but think you lack the courage, drive or environment to do so, then it’s time to give it a shot. There is no Comfort Zone Bashing for Dummies textbook out there, no Essential Guide and no 5 Steps. It’s just who you are, and who you want to be. The following might help though:

DEFINE

Picture a circle, surrounded by endless nothingness. A “zone” by definition, requires borders. Now, put all your comforts into that circle: laptops, instagram, coffee, job security, porn, heels and all. The safety of everything you know is in that circle, everything you believe you have control over. You might come to the conclusion that everything you’ve put into that circle are the things that do not scare you, because you’ve gotten so accustomed to them, hence the “comfort” factor.

Everything outside of that circle… is life.

Yes, you are living, but do you feel alive? Life truly begins outside the borders of your comfort zone. That sincere thankfulness for every breath, every moment will never take place within the circular confines of your zone. It is imperative to be aware of your circle; only then will you know when you are inside or outside of it. The more you break out, the more you’ll be expanding its borders, and yourself as a human being.

DESIGN

Now that you’ve defined your comfort zone, it’s time to design how you’ll be breaking out. I wouldn’t really use the term “plan”, as once again by definition, a plan may, or may not necessarily come to fruition, but a “design” is constantly interchangeable according to the fluctuating variables in the equation of its making. You can change a design as you go along according to circumstances, eventually making you better at navigating life, as opposed to the frustration you may face when your plans don’t go according to err… plan.

You know your own limitations, or those you’ve been taught to perceive. You know your own fears, or the things you’ve been taught to be afraid of.  You would be essentially designing your experience in life, and whether you believe so or not, you’ve already got the tools to do so. Design a difference in how you do certain things, and test your limits. The perspective and view really is quite different from the edge.

Safi on his latest adventure beyond his comfort zone

DECIDE 

Back to the circle, you’re in the middle and you’ve decided to break out in whatever form you’ve chosen; a trip, a chance meeting, a new sport, or even forgiving someone you normally wouldn’t. No matter how big or little the decision is, realise and acknowledge that by taking it, you are effectively breaking out of your zone, and appreciate that.

Run in parallel with the borders of your circle for a while first, you do not want to do a 90 degree penetration through the walls of your zone, that can only lead to unfavorable consequences. Breaking out suddenly can easily shock your system, so it may be advisable to design a couple of steps between lazing on your couch with seasons of Modern Family, and base-jumping off the Taipei 101. Extreme actions can have extreme consequences, always keep that in mind.

So, whether you take the decision to order something different for lunch, or quit your job, and break free from the shackles of normality in search of something that is more “you”, define your comfort zone, design it, and decide what you want to do with it. That’s all really, and as any hippie drivel must contain and/or end with a Pink Floyd quote of some sort, I feel stereotypically compelled to share this one: All you touch and all you see / All your life will ever be.

Keep it real by following Safi on twitter @__Safi__