5 ways to spring forward — Maintaining balance between your thinking and comfort zone

Hope springs eternal” —Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

In just a few days we finally “spring forward” with daylight saving time in Milwaukee. The time change will bring much needed daylight. On the 20th, the spring equinox — the official first day of spring — will occur. It has been quite the winter for many of us in the northern hemisphere. And here in the Midwest, we returned to the kind of winter many of us adults remember when we were children — extreme bitter cold, early snow, towering snow banks, etc. But with the hope of spring right around the corner, most of us are shouting, “Amen to that!”

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gives a more in-depth description of spring:

“Spring is one of the four conventional temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. When it is spring in the northern hemisphere, it will be autumn in the southern hemisphere. At the spring equinox, days are close to 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses. Spring and ‘springtime’ refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.”

Let’s focus on the term “spring” from the perspective of local culture and customs. There are so many varied associations with it. Spring is one of the most important events in the cycle of life because of the chance it gives for us to start over. Spring rituals have been created to symbolize the season’s importance in the cycle of life and have been utilized by humanity since antiquity. Some of those rituals include fertility, such as hunting for eggs, cleaning our living spaces out and even tying up past financial dealings (doing our taxes). Those rituals can be tremendously important elements in our lives because they remind us of the constant capability life has to renew itself and start afresh.

“Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes… Wish that I could stay forever this young, not afraid to close my eyes.” —From the song “Wake Me Up” by Avicii

Human growth and development experts state that we go through cycles or transitions throughout our entire life. No matter where we live or what we believe, certain emotional dynamics happen for each of us depending on what stage of development we are in. Despite the differences we go through during our various life cycles, one thread runs through it all — constant change. One of the greatest challenges that we have is to be open to growth and change throughout our entire life — from the cradle to the grave. I emphasize this with all of my clients.

“Older” is a term that we usually believe means chronological age. By the time someone is 30, an ever-present notion to slow down and not move forward already begins to develop. It intensifies until the transition of one’s death.

But, if we want to continue to move forward in a healthy and positive way, we have to work at thinking differently about it. We have to take ourselves out of rigid habitual patterns that have a tendency to try to freeze time and stop the cycle of life from happening. We have to work at changing the kind of automatic thinking that strives to keep us planted within our comfort zone.

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.” —Joel Osteen

We all know what a comfort zone is. It can be positive or negative depending on the circumstances. Comfort zones can challenge us to come out of our shells and cope with the unpredictability of life. Staying within our comfort zone at all times and in all places creates the potential to keep us planted in the past and blocks any new opportunities from taking place in our lives. In other words, when we stay in our comfort zone for too long, we can end up suffocating to death. That may sound pretty ominous, but it just so happens to be true.

Cycles help to create an ongoing balance. Balance is always a positive thing to strive for according to mental health experts. American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck, the original developer of cognitive therapy, postulated that thinking creates our emotions, and that emotions create our behaviors. That is a cyclical process. Therefore, it is also imperative for us to maintain balance within this ongoing cycle. In doing so, we need to pay attention to how we think, feel and act as much as we can.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” —Lao Tzu

Here are five ways to maintain balance between thinking and being in one’s comfort zone:

  1. Don’t embrace fear. Instead, stay in the vibration of love, a place where all things are possible.
  2. Keep your thoughts “in check” hourly, daily — by the minute if you can. Practice and know if your thoughts are conditioned (habitual, negative and unhealthy) or authentic (original, creative, progressive and healthy).
  3. Spring into the new. That includes challenging yourself to find new ways to learn and grow physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  4. Find ways to get quiet and connect with your spirituality so that you can begin to connect with a greater truth and wisdom.
  5. Make and take the time to create new self-discoveries regarding your own thinking, inner truths and the rituals you practice so that you can learn to be flexible enough to maintain the balance while you maintain your never-ending growth.

Jill E. Greinke, MSW, LCSW, SAC, is a holistic psychotherapist and transformational consultant specializing in transformational counseling and coaching, group coaching, workshops, teleconferences, presentations, speaking engagements and consultations. To get her free report, “Five Steps to Miraculous Living,” visit her at http://jillegreinke.com.

Article originally posted Natures Pathways Magazine March 2014

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