I returned home from One World Academy in India one week ago. I went there to take a 5-day immersive course called Field of Transformation. My mind was blown every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I suspected that the mind blowing would continue once I returned home as all of the wisdom I received sunk in further and I started to see its practical applications in my daily life.
Well, I was right. During a conversation with a friend yesterday, I had a huge AHA moment about the concepts of comfort and freedom that were discussed a few times at OWA. My friend was talking about a situation in which she was faced with the choice between two options. It suddenly dawned on me that her first choice represented comfort and the second represented freedom.
Comfort is that thing that you've always done - the action you tend to take, the decision you tend to make - essentially, the road well-traveled. Freedom, on the other hand, is the road less traveled. It involves taking actions and making decisions that you normally don't. It represents all that is unknown and its results are unpredictable. When I spell it out like this, it seems crazy that anyone would choose freedom over comfort, right? I know I've always chosen comfort.
The trouble is, comfort is comfortable. That does not always equal happiness, fulfillment, excitement, passion, growth or development. It also rarely involves learning. It's very hard to see things from a new perspective when we're standing where we've always stood. I came across a great quote from Les Brown that captures this beautifully. He says: "If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness".
As the saying goes, "the truth will set you free". However, we know that the truth is sometimes a tough pill to swallow. It can sometimes be messy, hard and uncomfortable. But this is where the difficult choice often lies - between being comfortable with your eyes closed or having your eyes wide open and you are free.
I'll share a story from my single girl life as an example. Once upon a time, I liked a guy. Initially, things were going well and we were texting back and forth as is the custom these days (does anyone call each other anymore??). Anyways, at a certain point, my radar went off and I noticed that I was initiating most of the messaging where things had previously been 50-50. I had gotten used to frequent contact with said guy so I chose the comfort of continuing to initiate with him rather than bear the inevitable ickiness I'd feel if I took a chance and didn't initiate and I received no messages from him. In this situation, freedom would have meant facing where things really stood. That would have been truth. I chose instead to close my eyes and feel comforted in the fact that I was "talking to " someone rather than being a single gal with nothing going on and no prospects.
Over time, I started to experience the downsides of the comfort zone. I wasn't really feeling happy and I was plagued with the nagging doubt that maybe he wasn't that into me and he was just responding to my texts because he was a nice guy. The comfort zone was starting to get uncomfortable for me. One of my highest values is authenticity and this burying my head in the sand approach to this situation was starting to rub me the wrong way. It was time to seek freedom.
So I didn't text him and I waited. A day passed - no message. Two days passed - nothing. A third day - same thing. I can't remember now how many days passed but you get the point. Honestly, it didn't feel great to glance at my phone and realize that my fear was justified. But, I'd gained my freedom. Freedom from the fear, freedom from living in fantasy and freedom from lying to myself and making excuses.
The choice of freedom is not for the faint of heart and it requires courage. Many of us will continue to choose comfort over freedom. We may find that some areas of our lives are easier to choose freedom in over others. This is something I battle with every day so you'll get no judgement from me on this. Yet, when we consider the often cited quote from Neale Donald Walsch that "life begins at the end of your comfort zone", why wouldn't we choose life?