A Reexamination Of Comfort Zones And Creativity

Being in one’s comfort zone or not seems to be a marker of all sorts of wonderful traits including creativity and progressiveness. I can even be a path to success and wealth!

I consider myself a creative person. However, I find many ideas about comfort zones, and getting out of them, to have very little to do with creativity and creating a good life for yourself.

Since I perceive quality of life something that we can and need to create for ourselves, I think that reevaluating comfort zones is a necessary step before it is possible to actually improve your life.

Distorting Comfort Zones

Current ideas of comfort zones, in particular getting out of one’s comfort zone, are very much tied to the growth model of economic progress. Getting out of one’s comfort zone appears to have become somewhat of a cultural ideal and I think that is problematic. Being uncomfortable is not necessarily better than being comfortable. It is important to be able to know when to step out of comfort zones and when not to.

Here are some reasons, a society might value having people move out of their comfort zones:

  • if our comfort zone is “bad”, we will seek continuous self-improvement. Although there is nothing wrong with learning, it is better when it is for healthy reasons rather than to live up to a cultural ideal,
  • we buy and consume more, in particular more than we need. If living in a smaller house and having fewer possessions makes sense for us, it will be demeaned in a consumption based economic system. “Enough” is just a synonym for your comfort zone.
  • it can be thought of as supporting the hypermasculine culture of Western civilization with its emphasis on markets, competition, conquest, and expansion. Nurturing and sustaining activities are mostly devalued. One example of the mindset occurs with those people who assert that they will rest when they are dead, as if rest is a waste of time.
  • if we are out of our comfort zones, we may not be true to ourselves. For example, we are out of our comfort zone when we pretend to be happy when we are not. If we do this often enough we lose access to and recognition of our real feelings and true selves.
  • if we go along with getting out of our comfort zone as a cultural model, we may not be able to identify our real values and aspirations.
  • there is more to comfort zones than the demands of a hyper consuming society.
  • getting out of one’s comfort zone is not about becoming extreme in sports or any other endeavor.
  • getting out of one’s comfort zone implies that what is natural may not be good. Should we be rude because being cordial is in our comfort zone?
  • dissing comfort zones suggests that the ordinary is not good enough. Actually the ordinary is magnificent if we can stop long enough to see it.

Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be as mindless as any other idea.

Reframing Comfort Zones

One way to get out of the trap of comfort zones is to reframe what you are doing because frankly your comfort zone is really not all that important an idea to wrap your life around. It certainly should not be a reason for doing anything.

If you make yourself present to where you are, what you want or need to do and the steps to accomplish what you need to do, how do comfort zones enter into that?

Do you need to get out of your comfort zone when brushing your teeth. Perhaps standing on your head while brushing would be out of your comfort zone, but would it be worthwhile to do so?

Perhaps you should consider sleeping standing up because that would be out of your comfort zone.

A Better Use Of Comfort And Discomfort

All absolutes are problematic, because there aren’t any. Absolutes are an illusion. So turning anything into an absolute as a guide for living life is a mistake. That includes “getting out of your comfort zone” if you use it as a measure of whether or not what you are doing is a good idea.

It is far better to use comfort to determine when something is working or not. We use it as a tool for learning and living in a healthier way.

We HSPs have the ability because we are so intuitive, creative and in touch with our feelings to notice comfort and discomfort as a way to make life work better – not as an absolute but as a tool for compassionate living.

That is really the value of discomfort and comfort and one of the wonderful ways HSPs can add a lot of value and magic to the world.

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21 Habits of Stress-less People

Why, in a world full of potential stress triggers, when exposed to identical stressors, do some people seem to be immune, while others fall over like flies? While researching material for my books, I have ploughed through mountains of scholarly articles, case histories, experiments, research and conclusions about why people succumb to stress – with the statistics to back them up.

But there seems to be very little research allocated to success stories.

Why is there such an emphasis on the problem? Why aren’t we spending equal or greater amounts of time and resources on studying the exceptions to the rule; people who live in a high stress environment or experience periods of incredible pressure, without succumbing to the negative effects of stress? In fact many emerge fitter and feistier than before. What do these people do differently? This is what I wanted to know.

And these are some common themes I found.  

What Stress-less People Focus On

Stress-less people know that the thoughts they think, the words they speak, the food they eat, the books they read, the movies they watch, the games they play, the expectations they have, the people they hang out with, their daily habits—and most of all their dominant feelings, shape their lives.

The exercise habit

It seems that some people would rather eat rat poison than exercise. Extraordinary I know, but these are some common excuses I hear:

I hate exercise. More than you love being healthy and relaxed you mean? What does this say about the relationship you have with your body? If you haven’t tried every form of exercise there is and hated every one, this is untrue.

I have family commitments. And do these include being a role model for how to be healthy – or not? Do these family commitments include the risk of early degeneration and death? And what is preventing family exercise?

I don’t have time. And do you have time to be stressed and ill? What is stopping you re-arranging your priorities, or combining exercise with work or socializing?

I can’t afford it. Do you have any idea how many types of free exercise there are? Have you researched the potential cost of not exercising?

Exercise is a powerful act of self love; a prayer of appreciation; an absolute non negotiable for building immunity to stress.

The water habit

The African baobab tree, because its habitat is so arid and dry, has a unique ability to store large volumes of water. We do not! The human body is composed of around 85% water. This provides structural support for our billions of cellular citizens. It supports complex biochemical reactions and is the major component of our blood and other body fluids.

Like the canals in Venice, our internal transport system is waterborne.

It is this water supply that distributes what we ingest throughout our bodies. It is water that flushes toxic waste from every part of this miraculous ecosystem, preventing us from turning into toxic swamps.  As long as enough water and oxygen are available, everything works smoothly.

Yet there are staggering numbers of people on our planet who rarely or never drink water.

The late F. Batmanghelidj, MD, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, spent years researching the profound benefits water has on the physiological functions of the body – and the lethal impact of dehydration. From the new perspective of my twenty two years of clinical and scientific research into molecular physiology of dehydration, he wrote, I can safely say the 60 million Americans with hypertension, the 110 million with chronic pains, and the 15 million with allergies….all waited to get thirsty.

The sleep habit

Most of us sleep significantly less than we did fifty years ago. Many people think sleep is a waste of time. Research is ongoing and although we may not yet know exactly what sleep does, we do know that lack of it has multiple negative knock-on effects.

It hasn’t been used as a torture tool throughout history for no reason.

According to various surveys, sleep deprivation among children may have a profound impact on ADHD symptoms. When adults are tired they usually become sluggish. When children are tired they tend to overcompensate and go into overdrive. This is why sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children. Children (and adults) may also be inattentive, impulsive, moody, emotionally explosive, or aggressive as a result of sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep and stress go hand in hand.

The eating habit

Unsatisfied emotional hunger often results in an over-dependence on nurturing from food. Being a product of Africa, where the specter of starvation often stalks, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to understand the scourge of obesity that is equally lethal.

Half the world is dying from need. The other half is dying from greed.

And greed is just another form of need.  Then in the midst of greed, people are dying from self inflicted need (anorexia or bulimia.) Yes, I’m confused too!

The weight of an obese body is only partly due to an imbalance between food and exercise. What about the weight of despair, shame, loneliness, resentment, and lack of self love? Obese bodies are carrying burdens they were not designed to carry – and seeking solace from an ineffective source.

Imagine having a twenty, thirty or fifty year backlog of unresolved issues in storage; stuffed into the warehouse that is your body. Of course your body has to stretch to accommodate them. So it has to keep expanding in order to contain this mountain of unresolved stuff.

Our bodies were designed to process the experiences of life—not store them in dispatch!

Enlist professional help and have a spring clean, just as you would in your home; get rid of anything you don’t use on a daily basis and is taking up valuable mental real estate. Our most compelling desire is not for food. Our most compelling desire is for love, respect and acceptance.

A good therapist can help to disentangle physical hunger from emotional hunger and when emotional hunger is satisfied, physical hunger is easy to satisfy in a healthy, balanced, enjoyable way.

The mental cleanliness habit

When your vehicle gets dirty, you take it to the car wash. When your clothes get grubby you put them into a washing machine. What then do you do with your mind and emotions when they get mucky?

The amygdala, a part of our second brain is our memory museum.

Memories attached to strong emotions (whether intensely pleasurable or intensely painful) are more likely to be stored in here.

When the amygdala registers impressions emailed to it by our sense of smell, taste, sight, touch or hearing, it processes it by ‘speed dialing’ previously stored information to find a match. This is a valuable time saving function. But it can be problematical because people, situations and events that are even indirectly related to this memory, can trigger an overreaction.

Say for instance, you were involved in a tragic car accident on a mountain road in snowy conditions, the stored memories might trigger an instant fear of similar smells, sights, sounds or sensations. If you were humiliated, bullied or abused by a muscle bound man with red hair and an Irish accent your speed dial function might trigger an instant dislike or fear of anyone answering even part of that description.

Our prejudices, fears and stress triggers are often based on these false memories.

The oxygen habit

Dr. Otto Warburg, a two-time Nobel Prize winner reveals that the cause of most disease is lack of sufficient oxygen in the body. Oxygen deficiency fosters the build-up of disease, which, over a period of time overwhelms the body’s immune system.

Most strains of harmful bacteria, as well as cancer cells are anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

Under ideal circumstances, our atmosphere contains about 20% oxygen, although it has recently been reported that in many of our more polluted cities, levels have dropped to around 10%. It’s obvious that our oxygen needs are not being met. Several of the most common ailments now affecting our population especially in the polluted metropolitan areas are directly related to oxygen starvation. It’s hard to be de-stressed and oxygen starved at the same time.

The wellness habit

I’m wondering whether the world of medicine and therapy is running out of diagnosis labels, and manufacturing illnesses. For every conceivable feeling, emotion, thought, or physical characteristic they seem to create a diagnosis, an appropriately official label—and of course medication to manage it.

I guess disease mongering is pretty lucrative.

So that psychopathic bully in the playground is just a poor misunderstood boy suffering from Defensive Reaction Syndrome. And that habitually obnoxious colleague you work with? Well, you mustn’t make him feel marginalized; he’s just suffering from a Social Personality Challenge. The employee you’re about to dismiss because she’s so lazy she makes a slug look hyperactive—well, she’s just suffering from Delayed Motivation Syndrome.

Come to think of it, I would undoubtedly be a candidate for a diagnosis.

I’m terminally happy and unnaturally solution oriented. I take abnormal responsibility for the quality of my life at every level, I laugh far too much, I’m too damn healthy, my weight hasn’t varied in thirty five years, I lavish my loved ones with too much affection and greet each day with excessive anticipation! There must be a label for this condition.

This emphasis on illness instead of wellness has encouraged many people to develop an illness dependency.

At some point in their past it received positive feedback and rewards. It proved an effective way to get attention and feel nurtured. It met their needs, and so it stuck. We’re all attention seekers by nature. So if we’re not getting attention and appreciation through constructive strategies we’ll use whatever works. Entire cultures have evolved that reward illness and penalize wellness. I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill, I’m definitely stressed.

The love habit

If you were given a multi million dollar mansion at birth – would you allow it to deteriorate into a seedy, unsanitary squat, with a leaky roof, cracked and peeling walls tattooed with graffiti, and a blocked sewerage system?

So why do we allow the opinions, trends, expectations, benchmarks and criticisms our environments bombard us with, to devalue this truly miraculous organism with which we live so intimately twenty four hours a day?

When we love ourselves, and are loved by others, a cocktail of healing chemicals are released, which in turn triggers the release of anti-stress and anti-aging hormones. These speed cellular repair.

Only when we deviate from our natural biological balance, does our body rebel.

The 21 Habits Of Stress-Less People

Stress-less people:

  1. Make their health a priority – especially when under pressure
  2. Don’t warehouse mental or emotional ‘weight’ and keep their internal environment clean
  3. Drink plenty of clean water
  4. Breathe clean air
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Don’t deprive themselves of sleep
  7. Know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
  8. Ask for and accept help when they need it
  9. Are not dependent on other people’s approval – they already have their own
  10. Are not slaves to societal trends
  11. Instinctively look beyond life’s challenges for messages and solutions
  12. Can detach when necessary and have good emotional management skills
  13. Focus on wellness and balance – not illness and imbalance
  14. Treat their minds, bodies and emotions with respect – especially when under pressure
  15. Consciously choose the words they speak
  16. Consciously choose the fuel they feed themselves
  17. Know that what they put in they get out
  18. Surround themselves with supportive, uplifting people
  19. Deliberately adopt productive daily habits
  20. Feel joyful and positive most of the time
  21. Love themselves – without reservation

Would you like to become immune to stress? Then contact me at pam@paminamullins.com

What habits would you add?