Brain Food #622

To make life thrilling

Thoughts of the day

We all have a comfort zone, a zone of familiarity and security. Brené Brown described it as the space “Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized — where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”

The space just outside our comfort zone is often referred to as ‘optimal performance zone’, where the right amount of anxiety (or arousal, in more scientific terms) is enough to produce one’s best performance in an activity.

I recently read a short piece by someone who described how she enjoyed being in what she described as her Optimal Fear Zone, a ‘narrow band’ between being ‘a little scared’ and ‘terrified’. Our optimal fear zone, or optimal performance zone, is often equated to the area where growth happens. As I like to think, if you feel ready for it, it’s too late.

Yet, Brown also said, “When we get into times of social, political or financial instability, our comfort zones get smaller.” This means that the more afraid we are, “the more impenetrable our comfort zones buffers become.” In uncertain times, we remove ourselves from circumstances that may put us in our optimal fear zone.

What may be missing from life in such scenarios, is a simple, almost safe thrill.

Watching a horror film.

Swimming in the deep.

Riding a rollercoaster.

Making a bet.

Walking inside an unfamiliar dark room.

Trying something for the first time.

Doing something naughty.

Sitting on a plane while it is taking off.

Perhaps, after more than a year of craving (and chasing) safety, it is time to make our lives a little more thrilling.