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By Liza Horvath


Step Outside Your Comfort Zone


A Zen koan is an unsolvable riddle. Teachers of Buddhism give students koans to encourage them to expand their mind. One popular koan is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” While not a completely accurate quote, you get the idea. Another is, “Does a dog have a Buddha nature or not?” (I would submit that entirely depends on the dog.) But why all the Zen stuff in a column for seniors? It is because seniors need to wake up!


It seems like when some people reach a “certain age” reflection is all that remains. “Did I make a difference? Do I have regrets? How will I be remembered?” While these are all great things to contemplate – at any age – believing that there is only reflection left to life will make you old in a hurry! Similarly, getting to a comfortable place in life can stunt mental, physical and spiritual expansion; when we no longer need to struggle to live – whether with a career, raising a family, competing athletically – it can seem like all the impetus to struggle and grow is gone.


If you are a senior that has reached a comfortable plateau, consider making two changes that will make a huge and positive difference in your life. First, get out of your comfort zone and do something every day that scares you. This statement is widely attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt but, Roosevelt or not, it is brilliant. When we get “comfortable,” we no longer challenge ourselves and, by ceasing to strive toward goals or push ourselves to accomplish, we stop growing. When we do not grow – we begin to die.


Doing something every day that scares us will do some amazing things. First, we recognize that although we are feeling fear – our heart races, our palms sweat – and our mind is providing us with limitless excuses of why we should put off taking the action, by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone we get some of our old confidence back. We just may put a little swagger back in our step.


Comfort Zone Crusher is an on-line course that teaches young adults to routinely challenge themselves which – according to Till Gorb, the developer of the site - will result in increased self-confidence and happiness. The site tells students they will become a “social beast.” Whether or not seniors need to become “beasts,” the ideas are excellent and the site is worth a look. www.ComfortZoneCrusher.com.


The second change seniors can make to reverse aging and enhance life is to bring regular and strenuous exercise into your daily routine – provided your doctor approves. Whether due to injury or simply because they feel it is unnecessary, many seniors stop exercising. John J. Ratey, M.D. and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, states it clearly in his recently published book, “Spark,” – exercise makes your brain grow. This powerful statement is backed up by extensive research showing how the prefrontal cortex – the “CEO” of the brain – is invigorated during exercise. Exercise, according to Ratey, is the best way to prevent the onset of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. 


Two lifestyle modifications – regularly stepping outside your comfort zone and exercising – will make you happier, healthier and smarter – what have you got to lose?

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com










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