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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What would life be like--if you never took a risk?

     That's from the back cover blurb of a book called Risking by David Viscott M.D. I just find that question so provocative—and helpful.
     For we all want to be safe. It's our natural state. For life is precarious. Make the wrong decision, you could be dead. So safe is a good thing. Limit risk. That's another good thing.
     And safety is a good thing. We all need it. But then again, what would your life be like if you never took a risk?
     For all of life is a risk. I have a good friend who says: "Everything in life is a gamble."
     And we're all risk takers. No matter how we may think of ourselves, we are ALL risk takers. (Did you cross the street today? You took a risk. Did you go out on a stormy day? You took a risk. etc etc.) The only difference is degree. But back to the question—what would your life be like if you never took a risk?
     I know what mine would be like. A disaster. Huddled over in self-protective fear, the walls closing in on me. I've done that sort of thing: just tried to be so safe. And I can tell you—IT DOESN'T WORK. In fact, the opposite occurs. By trying to be so safe, you actually make yourself more vulnerable.
     When my dad had a stroke, I got so weakened by his suffering and debility that I developed a heart arrhythmia. I told myself then, "That's it. No more stress."
     I did everything I could to protect myself from stress. (I essentially took no risks.) I listened to the most soothing classical music every night.
     And what happened?
      When the SLIGHTEST thing happened (eg. when the phone would ring) I would jump sky high.
     It was a joke—by protecting myself, by not taking risks, I was killing myself.
     I'm no daredevil nowadays. I still protect myself, some times more than others. But now I know that a life without risks is the surest way to incur damage. It is the surest way to have no life at all.

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