Out of my comfort zone
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Terry Martin has been considering why it is important, sometimes, to step out of our comfort zone…
Most of us naturally prefer to be comfortable and safe rather than to be taking risks. Although on some occasions taking risks might be sensible, it often comes at a price. Preferring safety to liberty, as Dennis Prager points out, means that we will stay forever in our comfort zones. [1, 2]
If we wait until something is safe it usually means that we will never do it. This is not a recipe for a happy and fulfilling life.
However, comfort zones can be important places for certain purposes. There we can relax and recoup that energy we will need to cope with those challenges we will face when we step out of our comfort zone. A comfort zone is not only a psychological space but can also be a physical space with particular associations.
Significant learning and change can only occur when we are out of our comfort zone. As author Roy T. Bennett wrote:
‘You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone. It’s only after you've stepped out of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.’ 
Stepping out of our comfort zone requires courage, one of the greatest of virtues, where we can grow both morally and spiritually. As Pope Benedict XVI said:
‘The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.’
Made for greatness! This can sound both intimidating as well as encouraging. C.S. Lewis helps us put this into perspective in his famous wartime sermon, The Weight of Glory, which he delivered on 8 June1941 in the Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin:
‘There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.’ 
Being made in the image of God is what makes us great, not what we may have accomplished. Lewis also wrote about being out of our comfort zone in his classic Mere Christianity, which was based on a series of wartime talks broadcast on the BBC. He expresses himself in terms of being off guard rather than being in our comfort zone. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence of what sort of man he is? 
We disclose inadvertently our true nature at such times, but being willing to go out of our comfort zone can lead to growth and an improvement in our true nature.
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart: Inspirational thoughts for living your best life (Roy Bennett, 2016).
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (HarperCollins, 2001).
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Geoffrey Bless, 1952).
Terry Martin is a trustee of Caraway, the Southampton-based charity for ‘those who are older but still young at heart’.