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Changing Your Edge
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, March 2008

A wonderful hiking guide in New Zealand recently told me "If you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much room." I have thought about this a lot lately. At first blush we may dismiss it because the thought of living on the edge doesn't suit many of us. We are comfortable away from the edge and relax into the familiar and the predictable. We may associate living on the edge with "extreme" sports, daredevil or thoughtless risk taking. We may ascribe character traits to those who live on the edge as people who have a death wish, who avoid taking care of themselves and those around them.

But what if we were to look at the concept of living on the edge differently? We can each consider where is "our personal edge" and assess what it would mean to venture a bit closer to it. Each of us could take a risk that challenges our personal status quo. Every day we face opportunities where we can stretch ourselves in some way. We are in situations where we can make more of an effort, select a more challenging route, do something different, look from another point of view, learn a new fact and then investigate it in depth, or read about someone we admire. In sum, push ourselves.

The phrase "on the edge" often conjures a negative image. "Don't bother her, she's close to the edge." What we feel when we are close to the edge is that we have no reserve. When there, we (and those around us) fear we will snap or lash out, losing it in ways that make us become people we don't like or recognize.

Try to think of approaching your personal edge in a different way. Yes, it is a place of temporary discomfort but that discomfort is okay.

In addition, remember being near the edge is temporary. Once familiar, it is no longer the edge so being there is not permanent. What you say to yourself while there is important. "I am in a place that is unfamiliar, uncomfortable and new. That is not bad; it is just different. I can get through it. I can come out the other side and be enriched because of this experience."

In the end, you will expand and extend your comfort zone. You will take a risk, do something you think you could not do, learn something new and, hopefully, enjoy the wonder of the world.





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