Living in the Grey Zone

Have you considered living in the grey zone?  According to the English Oxford Living Dictionary, the grey zone is an intermediate area between two opposing positions; a situation, subject, etc., not clearly or easily defined, or not covered by an existing category or set of rules.

The grey zone is an area of flexibility that allows you to move in a different direction.  There’s a lot in our lives that’s consistent.  We can count on the tides coming in and rolling back out, the sun rising in the east and setting in the west and even the swallows of Mission San Juan Capistrano return from their winter sojourn in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina every spring.   

Some of us lead our whole lives in a consistent direction.  For example, we do the same things in the same way.  We like certainty — to have everything clearly spelled out, and we don’t deviate from our methods.  We’re creatures of habit. 

Recently, however, I read that French people tend to live more flexible and creative lives because they don’t feel tied to any one method of doing things nor do they feel attached to previous decisions.  Rather they live in a grey zone, where things are neither this way nor that way but instead they lie somewhere in-between. 

The French don’t feel compelled to follow the same old routine.  They’re comfortable with inconsistency. 

Are you?

Personally, I like a creative challenge, but there’s something reassuring about consistency. 

On the flip side though, my guy, Ed, is great at coming up with solutions to problems, and he considers himself to be somewhat of an efficiency expert. 

Ed is a genius at coming up with how I can do everyday chores faster, with ease and less effort.  He gives advice on everything from my driving, to cleaning up after meals and even to how I do the laundry.  He has a hard time accepting my consistent ways of doing things. 

Ed lives comfortably in the grey zone.  And guess what?  I’ve tried some of his ideas and changed (grudgingly) some of mine, and surprisingly, making these changes has had a positive impact on my life.  So although I fight him tooth and nail over adopting his suggestions, I must admit there are other ways of going about my tasks, of thinking and acting.

So no, I don’t always have to do it my one and only way all the time.

Living with inconsistency is difficult, especially when one has perfectionistic leanings.  Sometimes we have expectations and with them the thought that certain things in life must go a certain way.  And when life doesn’t conform the way we want it to, we feel a loss of control. 

On the other hand, living in the grey zone can help to increase one’s flexibility to handle and adapt to results that are inconsistent with our desires. 

The grey zone can help if you’re filled with self-doubt as well.  Some of us are afraid to try different methods because of fear of failure.  But the grey zone is all about using our creativity and experimenting with different procedures and new approaches. 

So how do we go about moving ahead? 

Here are three ideas:

1.    Challenge the status quo.  When we question our methods or those of others, procedures that have been established, or the way we do things, we may spark an idea that will improve, enhance, simplify or in some way change for the better our basic principles of the way we get things done. 

2.    Change your physicality.   To get your creative juices flowing, moving to new surroundings, being with nature or meditating can help you to come up with inventive ideas.  Even moving from a sitting position to a standing one can help with creative thinking.

3.    Brainstorm or seek a different viewpoint from someone outside your situation.  You can brainstorm alone or with others and asking someone for their take on something or asking how they do something may be beneficial or inspiring.  Viewing your methods from their perspective may generate some useful suggestions. 

In this colorful world of ours, it makes sense to consciously live in the grey zone.  It’s my belief we’ll see more clearly how exciting it is to bring fresh and different ideas to our tried and true methods.  And yes, we’re all clever enough to figure out new ways to keep moving forward.

There are some who say if something is working, why reinvent the wheel or if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  But maybe by living in the grey zone, one will find a better way or a more efficient way to accomplish a task or gain a new perspective on a problem or issue.

For me, I’m going to consciously question and examine some of my automatic responses and ways of doing things and attempt to live with greater flexibility in my life.

What about you?

Are you comfortable with inconsistency?  Do you adapt easily to new methods?  Do you often consider if there’s a better way?  A more creative solution?  Let us know your thoughts.  We’d love to hear from you.



Categories: Blog, Habits, Inspiration, and Lifestyle.


  1. Tamara Baler

    I love this so much!! I think I also want to try the grey zone in relationships.For instance, family members will be better to deal with if I will mentally not process their actions towards me in black or white like I normally do. I will try to accept and appreciate our differences in the grey zone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.