A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared.

He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.

Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and meticulously snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged effortlessly but it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch it, expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge, develop and expand enough to support the body, but nothing happened!

In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand:

The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.

As students begin a new school year, I would like to propose a theme for everyone – stu- dents, teachers, staff and especially all of us in administration, simply put it is this:

Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.

I do not believe that means that the school year has to be one long slog, grinding and trudging from now to May. Not at all. I do not believe this means that we cannot have fun and joy.

But it does mean, for all our little butterflies, if they really want to fly; struggle, exertion, discomfort, awkwardness and unease, will definitely be a part of this school year.

And I just want to tell everyone that not only is that OK, it is necessary for growth, it is vital for one’s emotional well-being and it is indispensable for our students’ futures.

Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.

You see, comfort provides a state of mental security. When you’re comfortable and life is good, your brain can release chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which lead to happy feelings.

But in the long-term, comfort is bad for your brain. Without mental stimulation, connections between brain neurons that keep information flowing, shrink or disappear altogether.

An active life increases neural networks and also increase the brain’s regenerating capacity, known as plasticity.

So this, a truly profitable school year, is a call to leave comfort zones, the key to keeping brains bright, alive and new.

New experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that improves mental clarity. Anything that makes you really comfortable is not really good for your brain.

When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.

Just ask Fr. Kevin

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