Here are some of the ways that taking risks can bring more richness and fulfilment into your life:
Life is short. It really is!
Do you want it to pass you by while you are playing it safe? Or do you want to spread your wings and fly? “Don’t die with the music in you.”
Do you want to be someone who leads a life of “quiet desperation” (as author Henry David Thoreau famously said)? Or do you want to share your gifts with the world, do what you love, follow your passion and be of service to humanity and the world?
In order to succeed, and reach your potential, you are going to have to take risks.
Falling Off A Ledge
There is a wonderful story of a monk who fell off a ledge; clinging to a branch that he grabbed onto as he fell, he kept his eyes tight shut, too afraid of the certain death that would befall him if he dropped.
When he finally let go, he was surprised to find that the distance was only a couple of feet! Letting go is one of the major lessons of Buddhist philosophy; letting go of outcome and success can help us live life more fully and more freely and be more willing to embrace risk.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Letting go takes a lot of courage sometimes. However, once you let go happiness comes very quickly. You won’t have to go around search[ing] for it.” Letting go also allows us to embrace the experience of the present moment. Yogi Yogananda, who was famous for bringing yoga to North America in the 1920s, said, “If you stay in the present, the future takes care of itself.” Easier said than done, of course, but what a concept to live by!
Enrich Your Life
Set goals, timelines, and work to attain them. However, don’t remain too attached to the outcome. There is no permanence, only change. The successful entrepreneurs seem to have understood this and this has helped them to hold lightly to life and to its riches and rewards. This also makes the losses more bearable.
The Zen Buddhists speak about the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows. Think of the game of snakes and ladders as an excellent metaphor for the “game” of life. You roll the dice, and you just don’t know whether you will be the first to cross the line or whether you will land on the head of a snake and go tumbling all the way down to the bottom.
The point is, there is no perfect life, as so many of us are conditioned to believe. When I have that great job, I will be happy. When I find my true love, I will be happy. When I lose weight, when I buy a house, when I have a new car, or go on holiday, then I will be happy.
Life isn’t like this. There is always going to be negative stuff. Just when we think things are “going our way” something else shows up to knock us back down again.
This is why taking risks can enhance our lives. So what if we fail? So what? Society has it all wrong by seeing failure as something to be ashamed of! Failure is just part of success! It takes courage to take risks, for sure, but when you take a risk and succeed, just think of the rush, the joy, and the happiness!
You can enrich your life tremendously in this way. And if you fail, it’s no big deal, it’s just par for the course, and happens to us all. It is an unavoidable part of life.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Following the wisdom of the Toltec practitioner Don Miguel Ruiz, once you realize that nothing in life is ever about you, it can help you manage gains and losses without feeling that your worth is intrinsically bound up with either of them. It’s not personal when something “bad” happens to you.
As Jim Carrey has recently stated, it is just things “happening.” Think about this: You are not your thoughts. You are not the thoughts in your head. They are just thoughts “happening.” You are not your body either. Your body is just something, which is “happening.” Moving, breathing, smiling or whatever.
Everything outside of you is just “stuff happening.” Thich Nhat Hanh states it like this: there is no separation. The stream in the forest is the same water that becomes the clouds you see in the sky. The clouds in turn become rain, which falls and turns into the stream.
The stream changes into the river and the river changes into the ocean. The ocean evaporates and becomes water vapor, which rises, collects, and forms into clouds. All of life is like this. When we realize this deeply, we are less attached to outcomes and more willing to take risks! The bottom line is nothing, absolutely nothing, in life is personal! Thich Nhat Hanh believes that the western mind is very divisive.
We like to separate things, dissect them, reduce them to their component parts, and break things down in order to examine them. In this way, we can see things as black versus white, good versus bad, success versus failure. If you take the separation out of things, then you realize there is no “us” and “them.”
There is no longer and “good” or “bad.” There just “is.” Everything just is. Viewing life in this detached way leads to greater tolerance for stress and taking risks, because you are less invested in the “successful” outcome.
Release Negative Thinking
Learning to let go of that which no longer serves you is also a way to help you take risks. Identifying your limiting beliefs can help you release them when you can see that they are firstly, false, and secondly, holding you back from reaching your potential and your success.
For example, perhaps, like so many, you have a deep-down belief that you are “not good enough,” or that you are “unworthy.”
Are you absolutely sure this belief is 100% true? How do you feel when you believe this thought?
If it is not 100% true, and it makes you feel (depressed, sad, scared, ashamed, you fill in the blanks), can you think of one, good reason to hold on to it? If not, declare that you are willing to let it go, and your subconscious mind will oblige by doing just that.
You now have a unique opportunity to reprogram your mind with a healthier, empowering, and inspiring belief. Perhaps it could be “I am acceptable just as I am,” or “I am loveable.” You decide what works well for you. Once you release your limiting beliefs, you will feel much more comfortable taking risks.
Another limiting belief could be. “I might fail.” This is a common fear that holds people back, but as you have already seen, this is not a helpful belief, as yes, you most likely will fail, and that is ok. Normal, and to be expected.
Therefore, you could drop that belief and change it to something more empowering and inspiring for you, for example, “I can handle all the ups and downs on the road to success with ease,” or whatever works for you.
The Acquisition Of Wisdom Is Associated With Risks
We don’t earn wisdom by hiding in our shell. Wisdom comes with experience, and being open to taking risks helps us gain that experience.
This story essentially demonstrates that out of calamity comes a blessing. The story goes like this, a farmer lost his stallion, and all the local townsfolk all said this was very bad luck. However, the farmer just said, “good luck, bad luck, who knows.” Later the stallion returned bringing with him a herd of wild horses. The townsfolk thought this was very good luck. The farmer just said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
Then the farmer’s son broke his leg when he fell of one of those horses. Everyone thought it was bad luck, but…well…you know what the farmer said about it.
Then when the military came through looking for recruits, the farmer’s son could not go because of his broken leg. Good luck or bad luck?
Meaning is what we ascribe to an experience, rather than the experience being inherently good, or bad. Remember, the only constant is change.