Home » Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone: Yubing Zhang at TEDxStanford (Full Transcript)

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone: Yubing Zhang at TEDxStanford (Full Transcript)

The second story is about embracing uncertainty. My friend John lives an extremely comfortable life in Hong Kong. He works from 9 to 5 and receives a very good pay. But he’s dispassionate about his job and life and he’s constantly complaining. He has lived his whole life with certainty that the fear of losing what he had is stopping him from pursuing his passion.

Until one morning, I got a call from him. “Hi, Yubing, I went to a positive psychology class last quarter, got so inspired I quit my job today and I’m moving to Australia”.

“You, what? What are you going to do with your life,” I asked.

He said, “This is the first time in life that I don’t have a plan and I view every bit as scared as I’m excited”.

The next time I saw him was six months later. He just got back from Australia, a licensed hypnotherapist. From a trader to a hypnotherapist; I was shocked when I saw him again. His face was pink, eyes glittering; his whole body was just glowing. He is living his dream right now, traveling around the world giving workshops and therapy sessions for thousands of people to find happiness in life.

And as with Chia, I could see myself in John and maybe you can too. We’re all scared of uncertainty: giving up all you have to pursue a dream that may or may not work out; loving someone with whole heart without guarantee; it’s incredibly hard but as John found and I found and I think you will find too, it’s never as scary as it looks. And it leads to more possibilities and happiness in life.

The last story is about vulnerability. And the last story is about me. My love for my parents is the strongest emotion in my life but in Asian culture, love is seldom expressed in words. It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable to tell them I love you or to even share my feelings with them. Our daily conversation is a combination of what I had for lunch and what they had for dinner. The word courage came from Latin root “cor” which means heart and the original meaning of courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. I don’t know why I have the courage to stand here today and share my story with you but I don’t have the courage to tell my parents: I love you.

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They raised me with love, so much love. They made me believe I’m worthy of love, not because of what I achieve but because of who I am. Yet I so desperately want to be this perfect child for them and share my happiness and achievements and withhold my struggles and failures. And as I’m proud of my achievements, I didn’t know that this created a huge emotional gap between us and we no longer share the joy and pain of each other’s life journey.

I’ve been experiencing a tough time recently, a heartbroken ending of three year relationship; many questions about friendship and deep insecurity about future. A couple of weeks ago, I came back from the exhausting recruiting shoot from New York. The moment I walked in my room in darkness I experienced an emotional breakdown. I called my mom and burst into tears the moment I heard her voice. And for the next hour and first time in my life I shared my struggles with her and even though she hasn’t been with me in this journey for so long she understands exactly what I’ve been going through. The feeling of reconnection after so many years is like magic. In the end I told her: I love you and she said I love you, too.

It’s the first time I remember either of us has said that. I didn’t expect what felt so uncomfortable previously came so natural and peacefully in the end. I see life as a constant fight against your comfort zone. You push it, it pushes back.

What’s the fear that’s holding you back? What are you not saying or doing because it’s outside your comfort zone? I challenge you to find that comfort zone today. Bravely step out of it and as you get comfortable again, push it even further. Don’t try to get rid of fear. Accept that you will be afraid and then go do it anyway.

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As the words said high on the bungee platform, “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” Thank you.

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