I was once in an adventurous position where I had to broaden my horizons. I stood there in the middle of bustling Istanbul, Turkey without knowing a lick of Turkish and not knowing a single soul, but at that moment, I have never felt more alive.
Throughout my whole trip in Turkey, I danced between feeling like I might pee my pants out of fear and feeling like I had a buzz that no beverage ever could give me. Broadening my horizons during this trip gave me invaluable memories that continue to shape who I am and how I act to this day.
I won’t deny that leaving your comfort zone to grow and experience something new is scary, but what lies beyond the fear is growth and a sense of vitality that can’t be found anywhere else. Seeking new perspectives on life is what keeps things fresh and helps you avoid falling into a mindset where life is only composed of mundane events on repeat.
In this article, I will help you ditch your comfort zone and expose yourself to a world full of fresh insight to help you feel fully alive.
Why we need to grow
It can be appealing to do and experience the same things day in and day out. As a human myself, I can get on board with the comfort that comes from a sense of certainty and predictability. This mechanism also causes our fear of starting something new.
But at some point, you will start to drown in the monotony and feel as though life is a chore. And if you continue to live in this headspace you can start to spiral down a path of negativity and despair.
This is why having a growth mindset and pushing yourself to pop your own little bubble is critical.
If avoiding the doom and gloom mentality doesn’t motivate you to broaden your horizons, then listen to the research that shows the many benefits that stem from bursting your own bubble.
A study in 2015 found that when you seek self-expansion you will experience more quality interactions and develop more meaningful interpersonal relationships. Not only will your interactions with others improve, but the study also found that your confidence will increase as a result of expanding your horizons.
With outcomes like better relationships and a sense of confidence, it’s hard to justify staying in your comfort zone.
What happens if you live in your comfort zone
You are more than welcome to continue to be a homebody in your comfort zone. But you may find that staying in your comfort zone is riskier than getting out of it.
Research shows that if you want to improve your critical thinking skills you need to be exposed to diverse experiences in your life. Without this exposure, it’s easy to think the same thoughts and never question whether these thoughts are accurate.
Not only will you miss out on the opportunity to sharpen your thinking skills, but you may also lack a sense of life satisfaction if you stay put in the same environment day in and day out. Studies have found that exposing yourself to new environments significantly enhanced life satisfaction relative to those who never changed their surroundings.
I have yet to meet a human who tells me that staying exactly the same for the rest of their life sounds like a blast. I mean who wants to be thinking and living the same way they did when they were freshmen in college? Not me!
Yet, when we choose to not broaden our horizons, we’re basically communicating that we don’t want to change. It’s time to grow and ditch your comfort zone so that you can leave behind limiting mindsets and experience the world on a whole new level.
5 ways to Broaden Your Horizons
If you’re really ready to burst your bubble and see all that this world has to offer you, then follow these 5 tips to start your journey of self-expansion.
There is nothing quite like radically changing your surroundings through traveling to open up your eyes.
Whether it be traveling in your own country or to a foreign land a thousand miles away, traveling literally forces you to take on a new perspective and adapt to a different way of life.
I lived with a host mother in a small town in the Dominican Republic while studying abroad. And this experience completely turned my world upside down.
In this little town, I learned to have a love-hate relationship with cold showers and discovered how more than eight people can fit into a car designed for four when taking a concho on the morning commute.
But more importantly, I noticed that the priority was to enjoy life and spend time doing what makes you happy. It was such a shake-up from the hustle and grind culture that we embrace here in America.
I try to remind myself of those experiences because it helps me remember that I can bring back that lifestyle and mentality to my life here in the states.
2. Take a new class
You don’t have to go abroad to expose yourself to new ways of thinking or experiences. Signing up to take a class is an easily accessible way to broaden your horizons.
I would personally recommend taking a class you might never choose to take regularly if you really want to push your limits.
A few years ago, I decided to take an art class. As someone who defaults to the most basic stick figures at just the mention of the word art, I had low expectations for myself.
But by taking this class, I learned that I actually do have a creative side and I interacted with people who I wouldn’t normally encounter in my general social circle full of science nerds.
3. Engage with people with different opinions
This one is tricky. I personally am excellent at surrounding myself with people who think similar to the way I do.
But that has been my problem. You will never challenge your own opinions or your view on an issue if you don’t open yourself up to discussions with people who have a different opinion than yours.
A few years ago, I decided to go to a political meeting of a party that I am not a member of. Now I’m not going to say, “Wow-I totally agreed with their thoughts and viewpoints.”
But what I can say is going to this meeting helped me to have meaningful conversations with others who think differently than me. And by doing so, I started to understand why these people believe what they believe and at least shed a smidge of my bias.
Needless to say, this point is still a work in progress for me.
4. Do something that scares you
We’re just hitting all the sensitive spots in this article, aren’t we? First, you have to interact with people who you disagree with and now you have to do something that scares you.
But if you want to pursue self-expansion, facing fear is an excellent option for doing so.
Before entering college, I had one serious boyfriend and we broke up right before I left for college. I was terrified to start dating again because I felt like I didn’t even know how to date.
Thanks to some pushy friends, I went on several dates. And while I was literally sweating bullets during the hours leading up to the dates, I always left each date understanding a bit more about myself and other people.
And with a lot of practice, I very slowly began to actually enjoy going on dates.
It’s not always fun to do the thing that scares you, but the horizon you get to experience as a result is so worth it.
5. Read a new book
Getting lost in a book is an incredible way to explore new perspectives.
There are books written about almost anything you can imagine. If you want to learn more about a certain culture or figure out how to build a rocket, I bet you can find a book about it at your local library.
How better to broaden your horizon than to read the words of someone else who has experience in that area?
And if you really want some brownie points, consider reading material you would usually skip over. Because sometimes in that genre you avoid, you find insight that shifts the way you view the world.
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You don’t necessarily have to pack your bags and fly far away to broaden your horizons. But you do have to actively choose the path of self-expansion if you want to experience all that life has to offer. And I can promise you, you will never regret opening your eyes to a fresh perspective because that is right where you will find life’s magic.
Have you broadened your horizons lately? What tip would you like to share with our readers? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!