Friday, March 2, 2012

Food for thought: Changing comfort zones

Here's some of what I've been mulling over this week. Perhaps you'd like to mull along.

How much time in any given week do I spend in my comfort zone?

When I am out of my comfort zone, is it because I stepped out voluntarily, or because I was forced out?

Do I grow more when I'm in or out of my comfort zone?

Can I be the person I hope to grow up to be, given the size of my current comfort zone? If not, what can I do -- specifically -- to expand it?

... and all of the above, adding the word spiritual before comfort zone.


  1. Okay, I'll bite.

    How much time do I spend in my comfort zone? Very little, these days. Sometimes I stay home just to take a breather, but you can't do this too much.

    Did I step out voluntarily, or was I forced? You mean the move to a heavily bureaucratic country where I don't speak the language, understand the customs, or dress correctly? Wasn't my idea, felt like balking, but then decided to accept it and grow. Same with moving to NYC before that.

    Do I grow more in or out of the zone? Well, I'm learning a lot, though I'm not sure it's what I would have chosen to learn. Generally, though, I think you can't *not* grow as you age. If you resist change, it comes to you anyway. So I think we're always growing, unless we're resisting, which can cause problems of its own.

    But there's another sense to that question, too, which you are no doubt familiar with. I think there's a sweet spot between being complacent and being incredibly anxious. Take musical performance, for example. You want to be alert, but not frozen.

    Can I be the person I hope to grow up to be, given current zone? I'm not sure most people have much choice, in the self-actualization sense, after a certain age. I'm thinking of the narrowing that comes with making certain life commitments. But you have a choice in what you do with what you've chosen or are given, and that's a spiritual sort of growth.

    Add spiritual: See above.

  2. Laura, I was thinking about you as I wrote this. (I think about you a lot these days!)

    I think most of my growth over the years has been in ways that I never imagined I needed to (much less wanted to) grow. Which kind of impacts the vision I have of who I want to be when I grow up, because I'm far more open to not having a clue than I used to be.

    I do think it's possible not to grow as you age, at least proportional to experience. And I think you put your finger on it: where we don't grow, it's mainly due to resistance, or fear. It's also due to the ability to surround ourselves with like-minded people online, so that we can limit our engagement to "comments" and never have to engage in discussion. I've been mulling the fine line between finding the support we need and limiting ourselves to our comfort zone.

    I think the circle outside our comfort zone is the growth zone. For various people that zone is thinner or thicker, depending on how quickly it transitions to the anxiety zone.

    Spiritually, I've been mulling insularism. I've never been one to believe I need to isolate my kids from those who don't believe what we do. (I do draw a distinction between exposing my children to people with different values and to media that conveys different values; there's nuance in the former that includes the rich variability of humanity.) I have always wanted them to choose friends from all walks of life, with guidance on choosing wisely.

  3. Food for thought indeed. I spend entirely way too much time in my comfort zone (whether mental, physical, or spiritual),and whenever I'm out of it I try to find ways to arrange the situation so some part of it overlaps with my comfort zone.

    The first step in confronting this is the step I take away from the computer, right now. :)