Can taking risks in life make you happier and more successful? Yes! An Australian study linked good risk taking to “self-improvement, emotional engagement and control.”
So, why don’t people take more risks?
Usually one thing stops most people: fear.
Fear can actually be good with some risks. Fear of jail stopping someone from drinking and driving is a good thing. Fear of failure stopping a person from pursuing his dreams because the path to success is tough is bad.
Society teaches us from a young age that failure is unacceptable. There are many negative consequences associated with failure, especially in a society which seems bent on punishing failure as opposed allowing failure to be a positive lesson for future behavior.
But, if you never stick your neck out and take a few chances, you’ll never reap the possible rewards that can come from taking appropriate risks. Below are tips to take more good risks and reap the rewards, two of which are greater happiness and confidence.
When was the last time you risked failure? Some people have always played it safe. They took classes they could ace and joined groups where they could fit in. And so on. Consequently, they never reaped a genuine reward or learned how to deal with inevitable failure.
Failure sucks. But, it’s not the end of the world. That’s why you need to go out and fail today. Ask out a beautiful girl you have no chance with. Blow fifty dollars at a casino. Make a fool of yourself on the basketball court. Do something that is bound to fail right now.
After you’ve failed, contemplate first that the failure didn’t kill you. Second, ask what you can learn from that failure. You may not have even really failed. Maybe you actually had fun playing basketball or the girl you talked to was surprisingly cool. You might win some money.
Change Your Mindset
Most people who don’t take risks have a “failure avoidance” mindset. Rather than seeking success, they simply try to keep failure out of their lives. However, successful and confident people thrive on failure. I don’t mean they like it. But, they know that failure is the inevitable result of living life to the fullest, and a chance to learn from their mistakes, tweak their goals, and possibly achieve even bigger dreams.
Successful people see failure as a temporary setback, not an existential crisis. Their mindset is proactive and positive (seeking reward), not just avoiding something negative (failure). In fact, the best way to view a setback is not as failure, but as valuable and life-changing feedback.
So, try to actively start taking risks in life (good ones) and train your brain to stop fearing failure. The best way to actually appreciate risk taking is to take risks. One way to do this is to…
Taking Risks In Life Each Day
Since I am a naturally “play it safe person,” I actually had to force myself to take risks! I made a resolution a few months ago to take one good risk each day. This meant that every day I am on the lookout for ways to leave my comfort zone. My resolution has, on many occasions, forced me to take personally uncomfortable, but highly rewarding actions.
But, it also adds an excitement my life previously lacked. And, I usually end up taking more than one risk a day anyway because risk taking is actually pleasurable. That’s right. It feels good to take risks, even if there ends up being no reward. Your brain will start to crave good risks as well once you start.
A great book to help you become more open to risks is Rejection Proof, written by a guy who took 100 days of risks, and not only lived to tell about it, but found the exercise transformed him. Below David explains his risk of high fiving everyone on the bike path one day.
Keep A Risk/Reward Calendar
Each new year, I download a monthly calendar (here is a good calendar template that has room for daily risks and notes). Each day, I write down the risk I take. Then, at the end of the month, I list the rewards that have come from my risks. Sometimes the rewards are very small. On occasion, they’ve been pretty big. Sometimes the risk fizzled and I failed.
But, I’ve never once looked at a risk and regretted it. In fact, studies show that the vast majority of regrets center around actions we did not take. So, taking risks in life will not only help you be happy, but will cut back on future regret.
Also, since I’ve been taking a daily risk and writing it on the calendar, I’ve naturally started to take more risks.
I hope you can start taking more risks. Don’t do anything illogical, illegal, dangerous, or unsafe. But, starting today, vow to take more good risks. You life will be richer and you will find that the rewards can be awesome.