Have you ever said that before in your life? In a world that we often find ourselves struggling to fit in with, we always seem to seek out people that we have similarities to. What would happen if instead of seeking people we are comfortable with, we decide to find the people most unfamiliar and strike up a conversation. Would the conversation result in an anger, that lead to nothing but chaos? Or would both people evolve in their thinking and create a better good for their lives?
Human beings have survived through the ages, because we have evolved and challenged our minds to overcome obstacles. When we are first very young, we love the comfort. We love knowing where our food will come from, we train our minds to understand who our parents are and where safety is at a very young age. We learn how to operate in a safe environment. As time goes by, we start to experiment. Research on preschool children has shown that they experiment at a very young age. Trying different combinations until they find a successful outcome. Think about the child that might touch the stove after their mother has told them not to. The experiment often leads to pain, which sticks in your brain throughout your entire life. Or maybe the simple reward of crying in the middle of the toy aisle, to test a parents emotional fortitude. If the parent caves and buys you the desired toy, you continue to relive the experiment over and over again. Both people adapting to their new found comfort zone, until one person chooses to alter their behaviors.
We continue through our lives learning the best ways to adapt to the world. When change hits us, it hurts. It hurts so much sometimes that we have an emotional breakdown. In the long run, most people adapt to their new skills and learn from their experiences. As we get older, sometimes we start leading towards a path of conformity. We conform based on our comfort zone that we have created through our entire life. Did someone tease you in high school because you were thought of as a nerd? Maybe you were a bully in school and lashed out at weaker people to get what you want. These also play an emotional role in how you go through life and it shapes your being as you get older. Once comfort sets in and you’ve had enough experiences to continue in life, you adapt to the normal scenarios that happen day to day. This leads to complete happiness correct?
Sadly this comfort level that happens with people can be detrimental. Think about your childhood. Did you ever have a grandparent that you felt was stuck in their ways? Regardless of new technology that came out or a change in social norms, they continued their same views. As a child it confused you and you might say at the time, that’s never going to happen to me. Do you think at one point, your grandparent didn’t say the same thing? They then built their life and became content.
The danger with this is when they learn bad habits. Maybe they learned small racist views along the way. Jokes that seemed minor at the time when they were around similar people with the same cultural background. When you grow up around the same people and you create that comfort bubble, you might think you’re fine. What happens when you get around the opposite race that these jokes were about? Do you act the same you would as if you were around your normal comfort zone. More than likely you will go into the meeting with a small superiority complex. It’s what you know, what you’re comfortable with. If this person, says something, you already have a prejudged mindset of who they are. Before they even start speaking.
This can be any situation. Take religion or politics. All fierce subjects that you constantly hear that people should not bring up in a conversation. These subjects cause such a disruption in a conversation that can lead to anger or resentment. Why is this? Why do people get so angry about another persons beliefs? Why is it, that as soon as an opposite view comes into a conversation, it’s a quick jolt to a disagreement without even asking why? It’s because of a comfort level learned through life. An evolution that you have as you continue to move forward, any shifts in the paradigm completely disrupts the life you’ve been living comfortably for years.
What if we change the mindset? What if as human beings we set forth to continue to learn about others first? Before going into a conversation as opposed to judging from the beginning, learn why the other person feels the way they do? What could we possibly gain from others with different views?
Think through your daily routine. You might get up in the morning and go through the normal tasks. Why do you use the products that you use? Why are you eating what you eat? If you’re driving a certain car, how did you learn that this was the right car for you? You learned about it, because you opened yourself up and allowed others to influence you. You might have had some reservations as you ate sushi for the first time. Now you crave it every time you pass by a sushi restaurant! The hard seltzer that you’re drinking was just a fad that you said was ridiculous. I’ll stick to my bud light. Now look at you, changing your views and reaching for something different in the fridge because you found it had less calories! It might not have been you that even conformed first. Maybe you have a person in your group that is a trendsetter. Constantly looking for new experiences. That person tries what works and what doesn’t, and then gives the feedback to the less open minded people.
A study was done on German students and their openness to new experiences. They took two groups, one that traveled and spent an extended time in a different culture, and a control group that stayed and studied in their same town. What they found was that the group that spent extended time in another country were more open to new ideas. This is of course because they had to learn new cultures, languages and ideals. They weren’t around people with their same views or language so there was no choice, but to learn about the new surroundings. Think of the effect it would have if everyone traveled to a new area that they weren’t comfortable with several times a year. Our whole mindset would shift. People taken out of small villages with everyone that has the same mindset, now would start viewing the world differently. They would take these views back to their comfort bubble and start affecting the people in their every day lives. What kind of a world could this create?
I’ve traveled many places around the world and have had many experiences with different cultures. I’ve asked questions continuously and wondered how they lived their lives and why they did what they did. It’s shaped my very core and I am completely thankful for this. Different races, religions and even politics are fascinating to me. Not everyone has this opportunity.
What people do have, is the opportunity to surround themselves with people they don’t understand. If someone new comes to town that looks and acts differently. Ask questions and learn about the person. Dont shrug it off and say it’s outside of your comfort zone. Keep learning in life. Now more than ever don’t live in your comfort zone. It might hurt, but what you will get in the long term is something you can pass down to your children. An openness of the world and appreciation of other people. Our society is what it is because we have never stopped learning. If we did, we would still be living in caves as hunter gatherers. Searching for our next meal and living day to day. You have a choice, make the choice to find the unique in everyone and learn about it. Live out the famous quote of being comfortable with being uncomfortable!