I usually don’t take photos with my camera handheld (off my tripod) because I want to ensure that the photo being taken is optimal and free from any sign of camera movement. But recently, I had the pleasure of traveling with friends where many photograph opportunities presented themselves. However, not wanting to subject my friends to the laborious time-consuming set up routine I follow for setting up shots I did not use my tripod on this occasion and merely ‘snapped’ any image that caught my eye. This image, is one such example.
However, not using my tripod and working purely hand-held made me feel 'uncomfortable’ - I was working outside my comfort zone.
A comfort zone is that place, psychologically, where you are most comfortable; where you feel safe, secure, confident and in a state of mind and being where effortless positive outcomes flow.
In contrast, performing outside your comfort zone produces stress (mild anxiety, in this instance) and requires deeper concentration and focus to yield acceptable results.
The trip with my friends lasted 4 days - on day one of the trip I felt very uncomfortable working without a tripod. But, as the trip progressed from day to day and the longer I stayed in this new zone of experience I became more comfortable with it; the stress lessened in degree and I began to enjoy the experience of not being tethered to my bulky old tripod as I worked.
The new zone offered new opportunities and I began experimenting with new compositional ideas and new camera settings to optimise each shot in a handheld mode.
The above example is a very mild example of comfort zones and how they play an important part in our personal growth and development, both as individuals and as artists. To always stay within a comfort zone is not necessarily a good thing as we shut off the possibility of learning new things thereby stunting our personal growth and not realising our full potential. Venturing outside our comfort zone allows us to experience new situations and can enrich our lives. But a word of caution: move slowly from your comfort zone and take small steps to manage the level of anxiety that accompanies the change. Step too far from the zone and your subconscious mind (which 'protects and serves’) will pull you back to that place where you feel 'comfortable’. Multiple, small successive steps is the solution to expanding your comfort zones to limits you never thought possible.
We have many comfort zones for every facet of our lives: spiritual, personal, social, work, financial etc. We should take time to examine our zones (our norms), identify which are inhibiting our growth and learn to stretch these zones in a gentle, positive and progressive way.
Perhaps, you are you always struggling financially? or failing in relationships? - surprisingly, although it may be an undesirable reality, if this is your 'norm’; it is your comfort zone. Perhaps you need a new level of 'discomfort’ that takes you to a better place?
If you're interested in reading more on comfort zones, this book by the late Lou Tice (formerly of The Pacific Institute) is a great read, "A Better World, A Better You".
"The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears."
~ Dan Stevens