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Challenge Yourself

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"Always do what you are afraid to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was thinking about this quote the other day, about how doing things we are afraid to do can make us better. In our modern world, a lot of us have a comfort zone, a place where we are not challenged or tested or uncomfortable in any way. We tend to stay in the comfort zone. It's safe there, and not much is expected of us. We don't get embarrased there, and we don't deal with anything unfamiliar or scary. A lot of modern people stick to their usual routine, treating each day as a series of familiar tasks to check off before we retreat back into the safe laziness of our leisure time. Often we don't do things that scare us or challenge us. Most of us are guilty of this one some level. The problem is that if you never challenge yourself, you never get better. You don't gain skills. You don't broaden your horizons. As time goes on you get slower, weaker, lazier. You decline until you die.

I was thinking about this, and then I came across an excerpt from a book called SEAL Survival Guide: Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster. The book was written by a former Navy SEAL, and covered subjects from how to deal with natural disasters, to how to travel safely abroad, to how to defend yourself against an animal attack. These are things we all could have to deal with. The author's premise was that many people are so used to hiding in their comfort zone that if they had to deal with any sort of emergency or unexpected situation, they would probably not be able to deal with it. His answer is to think more like a Navy SEAL, to embarce challenges and to push yourself in little ways each and every day. In other words push the limits of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. I read this and the quote at the top of the page snapped back into my mind. I had been thinking of challenging myself in terms of generally improving myself and what I could do in life. Now, here was a Navy SEAL applying the same concept to improving how a person could be prepared for, and react to, any sort of common emergency.

In the SEAL book, author Cade Courtley recommends that people start doing very small things to push the limits of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. If you take an elevator up four floors to your office every day, try taking the stairs. Park an extra hundred yards from your office. If dessert is part of your dinner habit, turn it down one day. Each of these are very small things, but each is a small victory over our usual complacency. Each is a tiny push against our comfort zone. Each is a way to challenge yourself physically and mentally every day. As time goes on, your goal will be to continue finding ways to challenge yourself. Eventually, by expanding your comfort zone, you will develop mental and physical toughness which is a key to being able to survive difficult situations. Of course, we can all see that developing mental and physical toughness helps us in all aspects of our lives, not just in the area of survival. Navy SEALS are tough, confident, and believe there is no challenge they cannot overcome. By challenging yourself, you can start to develop this type of attitude, which can benefit you in everything you do.

What's the rest of your life going to be? Are you content to stay in your little comfort zone, getting weaker and lazier, until the clock runs out? Or are you going to live your life, to develop the attitude to face it successfully, and even defend it if necessary?

Challenge yourself. Try new things. Do things that scare you. Step out of your comfort zone. You'll find that achieving these things will give you more satisfaction, more pride, than you ever imagined.

"The function of man is to live, not to exist" - Jack London

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