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Fearless, fun, spontaneous … nutty

Bu Sue Ellen Haning
PagosaSun.com Columnist

Welcome to the third installment of how to be a successful nut.

One thing I failed to mention concerning this process is that it is rated G. Age range is 6-600, so if you fall in that category, you are good to go with us.

Following the last column, you made a list of 10 things that take you outside your comfort zone, and hopefully you have been thinking about them all week. It does not matter if the items on your list range from going back to school to become a brain surgeon to asking your next-door neighbor if you can borrow something; the plan of action is the same.

If you are not sure you want to take the next step outside your comfort zone, or if your hands are shaking while you are reading this, celebrate … you are already outside your comfort zone, exactly where you really want to be, right? It is scary, no doubt about that. Just thinking about doing something unfamiliar can cause you to sweat in strange places, indicating emotional distress. If you stay the course, you will not believe how favorably your world will change, and if your world is different, the worlds of those around you will benefit. Making the decision to move forward and do something different is commendable, precisely because it’s often hair-raising. Let’s just hope your eyes don’t change color or have your hair fall out!

From time to time, you will find yourself in moments of thought about your current comfort zone challenge. Smile when you realize you are feeling uncomfortable and concentrate on that smile, because the experts say a smile releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones.

Don’t worry what someone in the store may think when, seemingly for no reason, a smile broadens your face. Such a situation may indeed be a comfort zone stretcher for you. It is OK.

Every time you sense a thought or action taking you outside your comfort zone, smile and mentally focus on your smile. Stay with the discomfort for a moment, you are stretching; then step back inside your comfort zone and go about your day, sometimes referred to as your “rut.”

My favorite definition of a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out. Think about that for a minute. The grave is final. So final it is locked, no more living (at least not physically here on earth), but you can burst forth from your day-to-day rut and viva, vivre, leben, live! The tiniest of changes reaps huge rewards, as you will soon see.

When my daughter asked me to go backpacking with her for three months in Italy, having no reservations, itinerary, cell phones, etc., but instead asking Italians on the street if we could go home with them, I was catapulted outside my comfort zone just thinking about the prospect. (The fact is it took my breath away for a time.)

Indeed, it took me a few months of concentrated effort trying to visualize me doing something so nutty before I could give thought to such an adventure. Although this was not the case for me at that time, I did arrive at a point where I experienced a thrill realizing a mere thought took me outside my comfort zone as will you, too, at some point in this process. After all, this is what becoming a nut is all about. Discovering what happens when you are separated from that little zone of comfort is delicious. Cracking your nut is an ongoing plan of action requiring effort and diligence. Shall we move to the next step?

This process is intensely subjective, so please move along at your own pace. We are not in a hurry. This is life-changing stuff and will take time. Little by little, thought by thought will lead to step by step and action by action and, voila!, you will experience life as it was meant to be. Fearless, fun, spontaneous, confident, can’t wait to get up every morning … nutty!

This time, choose three things off last week’s list — three things you think you can do or that you really, really would love to do but can’t get yourself moving in that direction. Take the new, smaller list with you each day, maybe tucked away in a pocket or wallet.

This next request might stretch you, but you can hide to do this if necessary. Each time you stick your hand in your pocket or purse, spend 15 seconds thinking about doing one of the things on the list. If you can, in your mind’s eye, see yourself doing this, making the moves in your head first. Go for it. Haven’t used your imagination in a while? It’s OK, dust it off, it is still viable. The more frequently you give 15 seconds to the thought the better. That is all. Every day, simply think about doing the three things on the list. For the overachievers reading this — if you dare — talk to yourself; verbalize doing the things on your list and, yes, this means out loud. By verbalizing, you engage two more avenues to the mind, verbal and auditory. Sometimes the resistance you encounter on this journey is unfathomable, but you can do it. Believe me, if I can, you can.

We deny ourselves the simplest things in life, like a pat on the back or a kind word. Is patting yourself on the back something that makes you uncomfortable? It’s easier to praise others. Why do we withhold, ignore or discount our own merit of praise? When you step outside your comfort zone, even if you get just one foot out, pat yourself on the back. Cracking nuts is hard work!

“Nimble thought can jump both sea and land” — William Shakespeare.

This story was posted on January 24, 2013.
  • Janice

    You’ve got my number, Sue Ellen. Life sometimes knocks the courage out of me, but I desperately want to be fearless again!