I was born to make nice. I know that most women my age were socialized to do the same, but I truly excel in this regard. I hate to brag, but my making nice skills are pretty much Olympic level. If you think Usain Bolt is fast, you have never seen me flee conflict, controversy or confrontation.

I say all this because I want you to understand that going against the grain and thumbing my nose at the prevailing wisdom isn’t something I do lightly. What I’m about to say runs counter to just about every motivational mantra you’ve ever heard. It’s downright anathema in inspirational circles from Hay House to Hallmark, but here goes. I write today in support of staying in your comfort zone. Gasp! Yes, that much maligned, albeit rather nebulous, area just beyond which lies all the happiness, success and total fulfillment we all desperately seek.

You are more likely to see photos of Bigfoot’s wedding on Facebook than you are to see a meme urging you to stay in your comfort zone. When no less a spiritual guru than Neal Donald Walsh declares in every other post that life “begins at the end of your comfort zone,” you may wonder who I am to question him. The guy has had conversations with God, for crying out loud. Yet, my experience in recent weeks with people who trampled all over my own personal comfort zone while they were apparently out of theirs has made me wonder if “comfort” is really such a bad thing. It seems to be a real selling point for shoes, mattresses and HVAC systems, so why not for our lives? Oh, okay, complacency and stagnation and all that other bad stuff, but I want you to understand that pushing the limits on comfort zones is not itself without negative consequences, especially for innocent bystanders.

The experience I alluded to above has convinced that there are those among us, some of whom may even be, say, blood relatives, who should never, in any slight, possible or conceivable way, ever, under any circumstances, so much as lean, tilt or incline their heads one-trillionth of a millimeter outside of their comfort zones. I’m talking about people whose zones are so tightly circumscribed that taking a deep breath puts them over the line, usually with explosive results. Word to the wise, take cover if you are within their range when they blow.

Should you recognize yourself as a member of the aforementioned group and still truly desire to move beyond your minuscule comfort zone, here are some tips to increase your chances for success as well as to insure that no one tries to strangle you during your breaking out process. The key here, folks, is baby steps.

For example, if drinking a brand of bottled water different from your usual one is your attempt to push your limits, maybe practice at home a few times before trying it in a restaurant during the dinner rush. If a 0.4319-degree drop in temperature is more than you are used to enduring, try wearing a sweater until your tolerance increases. If crowded spaces inspire panic in you, boarding a New York City bus at 5:30 p.m. is probably not a good first step for you.

And my most important advice of all is reserved for those who presume to know what’s best for others and decide it’s time to hurl other people out of their cozy little comfort zones against their will—in a word, don’t! Or at the very least, don’t hurl them in my direction again because if you do, I may force myself to be confrontational and punch you right in the throat.

Now then, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m retreating back into my comfort zone, which tonight extends only as far as the glass of Merlot on the table beside the recliner. Cheers!

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