RiskTo love is to risk not being loved in return.
To hope is to risk pain.
To try is to risk failure,
But risk must be taken,
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

~ Leo Buscaglia

When was the last time you took a risk?

At first mention of taking risks, I think of reckless teens racing each other in their cars, or bungee jumping off a Swiss mountainside into a canyon, like my 20 year old daughter once did. They had her sign a release stating that she should not tell her mother.

But for me, now almost living for six decades, I want to take risks that require me to get out of my comfort zone at least once a week and pull away from old habits. “Breaking habits opens up millions of neurological synapses,” says happiness expert Rick Foster.

Yesterday,during the writing group I attend, we shared what risk taking meant to us, so I will add a few snippets of their wisdom. Not surprisingly, many of us baby boomer women equated risk taking with pain.

“I think we all want to avoid pain. Change has elements of pain.  We don’t choose pain but we choose an outcome. We choose to grow like growing pains.”

“I know I should exercise more but I avoid pain. I’m a wimp. I don’t want to take the risk of my feet and ankles hurting. I could swim but I don’t want my shoulders to hurt!”

“Risk taking is pushing the inside of the envelope.”

“Love creates the greatest risk of all. Not having it, not trusting it when you do have it. Pleasure and pain.

“Risks can range from a white-knuckle ride on the back of a donkey down the Grand Canyon to making that dreaded call.”

Here are a few non-bungee jumping ways to take risks:

1. Make a difficult phone call asking for what you want or having to deal with a challenging situation. Stop procrastinating.

2. Take action that is scary at least once a week. For example, you might join Toastmasters International where you can break through your fear of public speaking, and gain confidence in leadership and speaking.

3. Do something that could hurt a little. You can usually back out if the pain is too strong. But is pain bad for us? Not if it makes us happier in the long run. Again, discomfort can lead to happiness.

4. Volunteer in another state or even in another country.  It’s just the stretching of our old habits that makes it seem too risky to leave the comfort zone of our warm nest.  The darkness is closer to the light than we realize.

Maybe we should have a ‘freaking out’ hotline, where we can call when we’re afraid of taking a risk, and say, “Hey, you know, I just can’t do this. It’s too scary!”

And the voice on the other end just listens for a while, and then soothingly says something like, “You know, you were born to do this. You’ve waited all your life to do this.” It’s not going to hurt very much or for very long. Go ahead and jump off the diving board. It’s only a shock for a moment then start kicking and moving your arms, you know how to swim. Your nose may burn with some inhaled water, but open your eyes when you come to the surface, and it’s a whole new world.

It’s daring to live a life that realizes more of your dreams.  As Leo Buscaglia said, “The greatest tragedy in life is to never have risked anything.”

When was the last time you did something daring? How did you feel afterward?

Learn more about traveling to Italy on Lenora’s Italy Retreats For Women
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You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.