Day 521. Forrest Gump was comparing life to a box of chocolate, you never know what you will get. This is why you need to always be flexible when it comes to setting expectations. And particularly when you are going to unchartered territories. In many situations in life plunging into the unknown is needed but scary. Doing things that scare you is necessary to progress. How to enjoy that plunge, you may need to change your perspective, your belief system and your expectations. Here are 9 no nonsense, but not natural, reasons to enjoy the plunge.
- That which does not kill us makes us stronger. The famous Nietzsche quote. Some psychologists, like Noam Shpancer in the What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker article, disagree with this statement, claiming that tender love and care toughen you up not mayhem and chaos. Where others claim it’s true, like in this 2010 study titled « Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability and Resilience » whose results are available on the phys.org web site. Based on my experience, as long as no life is at stake, this statement is true and will tremendously help you to confront your fears with confidence.
- Time is relative. Einstein coined this in the theory of relativity. In the field of psychology, it’s called time perception. We all have experienced this: a bad event seems to last longer than a nice one, which happen to always be too short. Keep a neuron on this, whatever happens it’s never longer or shorter than the reality of the clock ticking.
- tiny is BIG. Tiny victories needs to be celebrated. If you ever walked in the complete dark in a forest and suddenly saw a light in the distance. What a relief! It’s a tiny hope, but a big relief. So ensure all minuscule victories are celebrated so you can accumulate and learn from them.
- Leverage all senses. We absorb and learn by many of our senses. You cannot, for instance, learn how to ride a bicycle by just reading a book. You learn by trying and falling. Whatever you are trying to do, use a multi sensorial approach. See, write, do, feel, taste or smell if possible. Confront all your different results to enjoy the experience and learn.
- Set hopes, forget expectations. As Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds once said « When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment » and as Seth Godin says « expectations are joy killer ». Hope is your North Star and moves you up.
- Get ready to be surprised (positively and negatively). If you are prepared for the unexpected, no hurdles will be high enough to stop you and kill your enthusiasm.
- Note down everything. The American Psychological Association published a research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology explaining why writing about stressful events cause improvements in health and psychological well-being. Take some time everyday to write about your day, your minuscule wins, your mistakes and your learnings.
- Visualize the amount of learning you will be going through. A clinical study by the center of stress management of Carrboro, NC, showed an increase of white blood cell, protecting your body from infection. Many others have proven the positive effect of mental imagery to decrease stress and anxiety, and improve well-being. Tons of references could be found here. Visualizing what you are going to learn and how you are going to grow is a fantastic and exhilarating exercise.
- Be ready to fail BIG. The number fear of not moving is the fear of failure. But not moving is failing. So better failing when trying that failing by not trying. Expect to fail, put failure of one of the possible outcomes. As Jon Bon Jovi said « Success is falling nine times and getting up ten ».
I have learned to love plunging into the unknown by thinking about those 9 reasons before and during the plunge. It has never been natural for me, but after some years of successes and failures, I forged those rules and applied them to any new activities. I hope they will work for you and will contribute to your comfort zone expansion.