Why we all need comfort zones

Do you have too much change and uncertainty in your life? It seems that most of us do, and it’s unlikely to get easier soon. Instead of hoping that the overload will go away, it’s wiser to explore how to handle it better. One good way is comfort zones...

I have just returned from a trip to the USA and I thought a lot about comfort zones whilst away, because I needed them even more, and had them even less. As you know, everything is bigger in the US, including the levels of uncertainty and the generally alarming quality of modern life. To quantify this, if everyone on our planet had the average UK lifestyle, it would take the resources of three planets to support this, whereas the average US lifestyle would need nine planets.

Even this makes sense...

Even this makes sense...

The reasons modern life is so demanding are not just that the problems are huge, but they’re in our face most of the time. Even more so in the US, where TV monitors stream the worrying news to you at every opportunity. The value of comfort zones is that they give you a respite from the overload: a relatively simpler context, where life makes sense.

Returning from the US to be plunged into the Brexit crisis has helped me to understand and value my comfort zones, and I feel blessed with several. One is railways: travelling on them, planning journeys, reading their history. Another is my garden, abundant with flowers and scent at this season.  Another is Hazel Hill Wood, my favourite place in nature.

I realised this summer that Premier League soccer is one of my major comfort zones. This may surprise you, as it did me. Although there is intense competition and uncertainty in this league, it is basically an orderly structure of 20 clubs, with reliable rules about promotion and relegation, and the whole thing is essentially coherent. Even the egos and eccentricities of owners, managers and players are an understandable kind of drama. I look forward keenly to August, when once again Match of the Day is a highlight of the week, but at least now I have a functional explanation of why. I hope that you too know what your comfort zones are, and can enjoy them to the full as the chaos continues.