What is it with the comfort zone? It sounds pretty good, so why are we constantly told to get out of it?

letter from the editor
Photo: Michèle Pauty

Whether we’re hurling ourselves out of airplanes, heli-skiing, flirting, gambling or pushing deadlines to the last minute, few of us seem to want to stay comfortable for long. These things can cause your pupils to dilate, your heart to race and your body to get pumped up for an emergency – like being attacked by a saber tooth tiger.

Today, unlike cave-era threats, even something as small as a Facebook notification can trigger the fight-or-flight reaction. It can be terrifying, and  over time the effects can be unhealthy. Our modern day predator is more likely to be a maniac behind the wheel, a sudden noise or an impossible deadline. Still, anticipated panic or self-induced fear has a strange appeal. It’s why we like car chases, horror movies and wild, crazy parties. We want out of the comfort zone, but just enough to feel it.

Austrians are especially keen on controlled risk: Whether it’s skiing, hiking or climbing, they make use of nature’s jungle gym to seek out thrills, and at the same time, teach mind and body to cope with real threats. As we see in the cover story Taming the Rush (p20), it’s not the danger, but the challenge they love. As always, we’ve broken down the need-to-knows for you into Quotes, Stats & Numbers (p18).

We’ve met some Viennese whose high-stakes jobs require especially good nerves: Tales from high-rise construction, movie stunts, improvisational theater or the roulette wheel, these profiles (p30) are total nail-biters.  Then meet parkour pro Pamela Forster in Anti Gravity (p62) – proof that city kids aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Also take the advice of serial entrepreneur (and billionaire) Hermann Hauser (p17) about how the thrill of investing keeps him young.

While we know we crave the rush, we wanted to know what actually happens when it kicks in, as we channel our inner super hero (p36). Then we explore the extreme motocross event Masters of Dirt (p40), which has made adrenaline into a business model, with breakneck stunts and sexy fire shows that turn thrills into cash.

If you’d rather go to your own extremes, mountain biking in the Vienna Woods (p44) or whitewater rafting in the nearby Salza (p79) could be just the ticket. We also get the skinny on jumping out of planes with Red Bull’s own skydiving team (p76). Most of us have mini rushes all day long, when we get push notifications on our phone, when we are surprised or when we flirt.  So it’s just as important to have ways of unwinding again. We’ve put together a simple guide on How To Find Urban Zen (p34) to keep the Gemütlichkeit going strong.

As always we’ve assembled the best and most daring events (p86) for you this month. Also don’t forget to check out our all new city guide, Vienna on Demand (p84), for the hottest eateries, cafés and shops. So take on the town! And while you’re at it, try using our Last Word (p90) in your next conversation in German. May’s going to be a great month, so take a deep breath, embrace the rush and

don’t be a stranger,