The Comfort Zone Trap

By Dr Ernst
May 6, 2016

Complacent /kəmˈplās(ə)nt/ adjective Pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied.

The more I meet people and see patients whose health has deteriorated because they waited too long to do something about it, the more it becomes obvious that we need to hear the “roar of the falls.” This refers to the concept that that if you get caught in a boat 10 feet from Niagara Falls, with a dead motor and no oars, by the time you hear that roaring sound, it’s too late – “it’s over.” The point being, that by the time most people look into something, especially health-related, it is too late.

The 3 major things that are killing your friends and family (and you if you let them) are 95% PREVENTABLE!

The leading cause of death in America according to the Journal of the American Medical Association is Iatrogenic death. This is a term referring to something the doctor did that killed you, not a disease or random accident or anything like that. Iatrogenic death can be anything from adverse drug reactions to hospital infections, prescription overdoses, and surgery complications. Iatrogenesis kills roughly 780,000 people every year. Cancer kills 586,000 moms, dads, sons and daughters per year. Heart disease kills 598,000 pastors, bank tellers and teachers every year. That’s 1,964,000 people dying every year from what are almost completely preventable causes.

But that’s not really what kills people. I mean, of course, that’s what ultimately causes their physical death. But the real truth is something much more sinister.

After 12 years of interactions with over 10,000 patients, the real leading cause of death, disability and heartbreak is clear: complacency. Complacency is robbing you of your potential in 4 ways:


We somehow think that we can get away with doing the bare minimum when it comes to taking care of our spines, nutrition and exercise habits, and we can always get to it later. The reality is that later is TOO LATE. It’s a special kind of procrastination–not the kind where your college paper is due in two weeks but you wait until two days before to get started. This is a type of procrastination where there is no clear deadline, which makes it much more dangerous. We always think tomorrow is better than today, and this can go on forever if we let it.


What are you settling for? Have you accepted that you will always be overweight and tired because everyone else in your family is that way? Have you accepted that you have to be stuck on those two (or 20) medications because the doctor told you that you just have to live with it? Stop living beneath your birthright to be abundantly healthy. If your past habits got you where you are now, change your habits starting TODAY, and stop tolerating your condition.

Arrogance and stubbornness

Many of us simply don’t want to do something simply because somebody else told us it needed to be done. Your wife wants you to lose weight? “Oh, she’s just nagging me.” The doctor wants you to quit smoking? “Oh, that’s what he’s supposed to say.” Interestingly, I see this a lot more in men than women (sorry to throw you under the bus, fellas, but it’s true). These people care about you. It’s impossible for you to know everything there is to know, and it’s simply not true that you always act in your own best interest. Listen! Do what’s best for you and your family!

A disconnect between knowledge and action

Oftentimes, we consider knowledge a good substitute for action. People come to my events, or they read the books I recommend, or they ask me questions and I answer them and they listen intently. But what then? Nothing. They have more questions, or they want another book recommendation. Or they come to the next event and sit and listen. At some point, you’ve got to take what you’ve learned and translate it into action.

It’s been said, “Live life like there is no tomorrow.” In the case of your body, if you live that way, you will have many more tomorrows. No more complacency, no more comfort zone. It’s time to move.

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