Comfort zones are almost entirely illusion. They do not provide us with reliable means to assess actual danger. They are based upon unexamined, uncritical, and most often unconscious perceptions of the limits of safety. Our comfort zones dictate a wide array of behaviors…
The greatest irony of comfort zones is that fulfilled people, the people most content with their lives, are those who regularly step outside their comfort zones. Challenging comfort zones is a learned behavior. It is also one of the most universal traits of all successful people: To somehow relish the rush of throwing a toe over the line to see what happens. Successful, fulfilled people, people who are living their dreams, have learned to discipline themselves to carefully considered forays outside their comfort zones on a regular basis. This concept is so self-evidently true that it is hardly worth the time to defend it. All growth, progress and positive change depends on pushing the current boundaries of comfort and doing things better, differently, or more.
Dr. Viktor Frankl was interred in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War. His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which grew from his experiences and observations there, is a classic contribution to the psychological literature of the last century. His therapeutic theory, called “Logotherapy” focuses on the human need for meaning in life as a fundamental requirement for mental health. He writes,
“Thus, it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish.Such tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well- being.”
“I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or as it is called in biology, ‘homeostasis,’ i.e. a tensionless state.”
History shall regard the socioeconomic ease with which so many in our culture have been able to establish and maintain their comfort zones as one of the greatest tragedies of our time.