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On Negativity and Your Comfort Zone

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I just revisited an article I wrote for the Times of Israel site entitled Looking the Beast in the Eye. In it, I challenged those unwilling to consider the dystopian scenario in my first novel, Enfold Me, because it was out of their comfort zone.

Three years later, with another dark novel set to be released, I’m still looking at the world – according to valued friend – “with such negativity.”

This got me thinking about this “comfort zone” which we’re all so intent on preserving.

Since I spent four years writing a novel in which I basically tore my world down and watched my family’s downfall – I think that I can say with some authority that a comfort zone is a healthy thing. A comfort zone enables us to rest our overloaded and suspicious minds, accept beauty and love, and free ourselves of the burdens that come with too closely examining the world in which we live. Frankly, I was glad to be done writing that book, if only to leave behind the terrible (yet darkly compelling) world I created. This is not to say, of course, that you shouldn’t buy it…

But I also learned a lot while I was “away” in that world, and gained a real appreciation for the actual world in which I do live. I left my comfort zone, albeit for longer than is common, and came back stronger. I think that’s what many of us do – leave and come back – but it is always what many of us do not do nearly frequently enough.

When I publicly critique some policy (notably the ongoing US-Iran fiasco), I’m leaving my comfort zone. I’m stepping outside of “this is OK”-land, and questioning whether it really is OK. Often, it’s not. Sometimes it is. This does not mean I don’t still love flowers and kittens. It’s not negativity. It’s critical thinking.

So please, my dear friend, next time you feel I’m being overly negative, ask yourself whether by “negative” you actually mean “out of my comfort zone.” Because while it’s important to maintain a comfort zone, it’s even more important to look beyond it sometimes.

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