The German intellectual Goethe is quoted as saying “The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” How’s that for an interesting paradox?! It’s certainly open to interpretation. I take it to mean that avoiding all risk can be dangerous to one’s enjoyment of life. With resilience, you don’t have to avoid all risk.
What you miss if you avoid risk in all settings
If you never risk disappointment in relationships, you miss out on the fun of dating and the pleasure of love. So should you throw common sense out the window? Should you date someone you know treats partners poorly? Someone who has no interest in being self supporting, or has some other red-flag behavior? No!
And if your investment portfolio is too safe, you probably won’t have much of a financial upside. That doesn’t mean you should invest all of your money in crypto and NFTs. Financial experts generally suggest some ratio of risk to safety in your investments, depending on your financial goals and other factors.
What you miss if you don’t evaluate risks
We’ve all heard the stories—or lived them out—of taking foolish risks. I’ll bet you’ve heard of someone who lost the mortgage or rent money in a bet. Or someone who put their trust in the wrong person.
But what if you play it safe?
But for all of those stories of foolish risks, there are the opportunities that the risk-averse folks among us miss out on.
A woman who hadn’t done well in relationships gave up on dating altogether, believing that she was lowering her risk of being disappointed. However she was also reducing her chances of enjoying love—or at least companionship—and sex.
Fear of the unknown limits your enjoyment
Every time you leave your home, you increase your risk. But there are dangers in staying home all the time, as well. You can gain a lot by leaning into the unpredictability of life. You may make a new friend, stumble upon a beautiful sight, gain a new perspective. The point is to not let fear of the unknown keep you from enjoying your life and going for the relationships and activities you find enjoyable.
Do you imagine that you can’t handle disappointment in dating? Would that really ruin your life, or would you feel bad for a period of time, pick yourself up and get back out there to try again?
If you leave a secure but unsatisfying job for one that seems more interesting and it doesn’t work out, do you imagine that you couldn’t handle it?
These moments can certainly be painful, but you can learn from the experience. You may find that you overestimated the intensity of the challenge and underestimated your ability to cope. Maybe the biggest thing you learn is that you can handle more than you think you can.
The role of resilience and risk in a life that feels good
If you didn’t see resilience in the adults around you in childhood, you may see yourself as being fragile. But you can learn resilience, even in adulthood. And if you’re resilient, you don’t have to be so averse to risk. I’m not suggesting that you be foolhardy, just that you don’t let fear limit your life. It’s a lot more fun and satisfying that way!