Several former classmates meet in the morning at lunch after an alumnus meeting the previous evening. They want to talk a little more but do not know what else to talk about. Then one of them begins to tell a story about mice, which they subsequently discuss together. At first glance, this is a children’s story about four mice trying to find cheese in a certain maze, where they live. The first two – Sniff and Scurry – are just mice that are guided by their mouse brains, do not think much, but just do their mouse thing – every day early in the morning, they go to the labyrinth in search of cheese.
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However, Hem and Haw – are not exactly mice, but rather, little people with complex brains that behave just like you and me. I can easily relate to them because I also tend to get comfortable with the stability of the environment. When they found an abundant supply of cheese, they realized that there was no reason in vain to drive through the maze, relaxed, later got up, and moved more slowly, crawling along the shortest path from home to the supply of cheese.
They decided that they would always have cheese now, and did not pay attention to the small minor changes that took place in the maze. However, once the cheese disappeared, thus, Sniff and Scurry, being simple mice, took it for granted and natural development of events and immediately ran to look for a block of new cheese, as they always did (Johnson, 1998). However, Hem and Haw started to have serious problems. Their familiar world collapsed, and they were not ready for the fact that they would have to look for new cheese.
This story is about you and me, about our search for the best place in the sun, the best tidbit from a big pie called “happiness,” about how we achieve our dreams and whether we achieve, and much more. For me, happiness meant several things, but put it simply, they are completing my college and landing a job in a top-notch firm or organization. The main thing for me is that in such a laid-back form, this little history book, which takes a maximum of an hour to read, helps me to shake things up, think about why I was at a dead-end and take a fresh look at my problems. This is my motivator, as I always call her, and she motivates. This book gives me confidence that everything will work out, you just need to find another way, alternative to the one I followed earlier.
Almost every individual can relate to some of the given characters of the story. I have always been resistant to changes in my life because it would force me to get out of my comfort zone. There have been several significant shifts in my life, starting from my high school years. By realizing that my beloved school years soon will be over, I had to choose where I will be acquiring my college degree. This was a significant manifestation of change in my life because the welcoming and familiar environment was going to transition itself.
After reading this book, I gave a lot of thoughts about how most people can relate to Hem and Haw. There are internal boundaries within which we feel safe only because everything is familiar and familiar to us there. For instance, Hem and Haw were slow to seek a new cheese, whereas Sniff and Scurry easily went for a search (Johnson, 1998). It is these internal frameworks that make us hold on to relationships that have become obsolete, to work that does not satisfy us, and even to the usual way of thinking. I soon understood that these internal frames form our comfort zone. I concluded that the comfort zone is an area of living space that gives a feeling of comfort and safety.
Although I was sitting on my couch, I realized that the idea of the comfort zone is not physical but habitual. The comfort zone is determined by habitual patterns of behavior, which is what I’m used to, it’s comfortable. This is an established world where everything is familiar to me, stable, and predictable. Simply put, this is a state in which I, as well as Hem and Haw, feel at ease. Nothing seems wrong with this condition, except that the comfort zone greatly impedes the development and development of a new one. Any learning and training are associated with going beyond the boundaries of a comfort zone (Robinson, Hanna, Raine, & Robertson, 2019).
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Outside the comfort zone, there is a risk zone, and a reasonable exit from the comfort zone to the risk zone is a necessary condition for personality development. Generally, the younger the person, the easier and more willing it is to expand the comfort zone. When a healthy person lingers in a comfort zone for a long time and does not make any efforts to leave this zone and expand its borders, then its development stops, turning into the degradation of personality.
Moreover, the book’s core ideas can also be applied to my attempts to get into shape, where I designated one hour each morning to perform both cardio and resistance exercises. Very often, we are talking not about external circumstances that create a person’s comfort, but about the internal framework of life, within which a person feels comfort and safety. As a rule, a comfort zone is determined by habitual patterns of behavior, by what a person is used to. It consists of habits, patterns of thinking, and stereotypes of human behavior that have been worked out earlier (Dermine, 2019).
This is the settled world of a person, where everything is familiar to him or her, stable and predictable. Therefore, I found it highly challenging to leave my bedroom to go to the gym because the habitual boundaries were present.
On the one hand, such behavior is good for a person. In the process of its development, he or she seeks to standardize his actions and the activity itself, which contributes to the formation of automated responses. Consequently, standardization technologizes processes as components of activity and provides a place for the emergence of new aspirations and desires, as new horizons of awareness of reality are revealed.
On the other hand, every year, more and more new spheres appear that are presented or made comfortable by a person. This is a consequence of increasing uncertainty, low predictability of the future. To exist in such conditions, a person changes the pole of his attitude to these innovations. Uncertainty, the difficulty of being negativist, aggression, and aggressiveness, suffering begin to be considered by many people as comfortable conditions (Riley & Solic, 2017). Thus, in the modern age, it is nearly impossible to operate from one’s comfort zone without failing.
The most important condition for leaving the comfort zone is the recognition that I am stuck in it. Without admitting to ourselves that we are stuck in a comfort zone, we cannot get off the ground. It is imperative to accept the idea that we are stuck here and that we need to break out of the current situation by defining the area of the comfort zone. This is our work, our study, well-established, but not satisfactory, relationships, city, home, where we live. All this may be our comfort zone, which does not suit us in any way, but we are afraid of changes and do not do anything to change our life.
In conclusion, volitional efforts are necessary for understanding oneself, which are actualized by a person’s exit from the zone of a comfortable state. Leaving the comfort zone will help a person to realize his or her desires, accept them, build effective contacts with the outside world, take himself and his responsibility for his life in this world, and further realize his potential. The development of self-understanding goes from understanding society to understanding itself. The opposite is possible only when the experience is gained in understanding oneself, thanks to which a person understands the properties of his personality. Understanding yourself depends on the context of the situation and the tasks that a person performs.
Dermine, P. (2019). Out of the comfort zone? The ECB, financial assistance, independence, and accountability. Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 26(1), 108-121.
Johnson, S. (1998). Who moved my cheese?: An a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Riley, K., & Solic, K. (2017). “Change happens beyond the comfort zone”: Bringing undergraduate teacher-candidates into activist teacher communities. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(2), 179-192.
Robinson, M., Hanna, E., Raine, G., & Robertson, S. (2019). Extending the comfort zone: Building resilience in older people with long-term conditions. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 38(6), 825-848.