Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. – Hellen Keller

Risk: An Anatomy

Life is always risky. Let’s just put that on the table. There is nothing safe about it and none of us are getting out of life alive. Every day, from the minute we step out of bed, and sometimes before, we are taking a risk. Maybe we will sprain an ankle or fall on the floor – not wishing this on anyone, just saying. We never know what each day will bring. We can try to play it safe and not take any risks but in the end, we will always encounter risk. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

We like safety, but, at the same time, we don’t like being safe for too long. Risk can be adventurous, pump our adrenalin and put us into first gear. It can be thrilling and exhilarating, especially if we have chosen it and prepared well. Safety is okay for a while, but it can get boring and we long for new challenges, something that will take us out of our comfort zone or apathy.  We don’t do well staying in the safe zone for any great length of time. Naturally, we need challenges and enjoy stepping into unknown territory even it is for a short time.  don’t believe we were born to “play it safe.”


A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William G.T. Shedd


So, what does risk mean? Well, that depends. on how we define risk. Just about anything can be considered a risk  Our perception of risk can depend on the information we take in and the source and quality of this information. It can depend on our frame of reference based on our experience from the past. It can also depend on whether we feel we are in control of the outcome or not. There are many factors that can determine how we evaluate what a risk is and what it is not. And it depends on what we know or do not know and how we feel about what we do or do not know. In the end, we don’t know what we don’t know and most of what we think we know, might not even be so.

I would say, though, that probably the most significant determining factor is whether we feel that we have some control in undertaking the risk and in its outcome. We want to feel that our efforts, our intelligence, and our understanding are instrumental in managing the risk.  For example, when we are the passenger in a car and not the driver, we are largely dependant on the driver’s ability to manage risk and on the other drivers (on the road) to drive responsibly. As a passenger, all we can do is hope they are all doing a good job. As a driver, we can manage the risk and take necessary precautions (such as leaving early enough) to minimize potential risks.


“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Currie


Face the Fear with Courage

Let’s face it; we are surrounded and bombarded by informational fear-mongering these days.  Not a day goes by when the news media (if we choose to listen to them) will not tell us how much danger we are in because of some outbreak or some catastrophe. And to get ratings, the media will puff up the stories and put them on instant replay so that we can watch catastrophe and calamity again and again from the comfort of our home.  If that were all we listened to day after day, I think we would all be seriously depressed and living in fear, convinced that calamity was just around the corner.

So, let’s put it all into perspective. There are events and there are our reactions to events.  There are risks, and there is our perception of risk. There is knowledge and there is ignorance. There is confidence and there is fear. Fear is only an emotion, nothing more. We tend to have overactive imaginations and build up scenarios in our minds and also tend to blur the lines between reality and our imagination because our emotions go into overdrive. Risks are only possibilities- what could happen, but also what may not ever happen.


“Fear is often described as False Evidence Appearing Real.” -Nick Vujicic


At its base, fear is an instinctual emotion meant to protect us from danger, but it is an emotion that can easily get out of control, and paralyze us from doing anything. When we allow our imagination to warn us of all that could possibly go wrong (all the “what ifs”), then we won’t want to do anything or go anywhere. We may as well watch the world and life go by from the comfort of our couch. We will be afraid to travel (what if the pilot falls asleep or the plane runs out of fuel?), afraid to go for an interview (what if they reject me?),  afraid to start a business (what if it goes bust?). Our imagination can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Risk: It’s All Relative

Risk and the level of risk really is dependant on our ability to foresee possible events and outcomes, eliminate possible risk factors and manage situations ahead of time and during an event or activity. And, maybe risk isn’t a risk at all (don’t quote me on this, it’s just a reflection). Maybe what we call a risk flows from not using common sense in a given situation, from thinking short term and not long term, from not learning from the past and applying it to the present and the future. Maybe wisdom is what we need and not gates. Maybe facts and not opinions will serve us better. And maybe confidence instead of fear will turn a risk into an adventure.


“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”– Denis Waitley


Take a Risk – Be Courageous

A chance is an opportunity, an open door. Sure, things can go wrong and things can go right. We may lose and we may win. We may fall and we may rise. The word risk seems slightly negative, suggesting that things may and could go wrong. A chance sounds more like a gift – a possibility to do something new. A chance suggests that we might benefit from the opportunity and that it might not be there for very long. One thing is clear: either way, chance or risk, there is uncertainty and we may never know what could have been if we play it safe. If we live in the safety zone, we may never know the adventure zone.


There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask ‘What if I fall?’

Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?”

– Erin Hanson


Time to Fly and Ignore the Naysayers 

They will always be among us – those who see doom and gloom in every event and around every corner. They are quick to say “Be careful, don’t you know…”, Don’t go there, don’t do that and whatever you do, watch out.” Chicken Little (poor thing) always worried that the sky would fall one day and, come to think of it, so did the Gauls in the Asterix Adventures. But take note, Asterix, the deceptively small warrior, was always on the lookout for and ready to take on dangerous missions.

The gloom and doom group never go anywhere or do anything of significance, do they?  They are quick to point out what is going wrong in the world and what could possibly happen and never allow themselves the opportunity to taste. And then there is the committee of “they” – “they say it’s not safe”, “they say it’s not a good idea”, “they say it’s risky.” They ask “what if you fail, what if it doesn’t work out”? Does anyone actually know who “they” are?

So What If You Fail?

Risk^taking also carries with it the inherent possibility of failure.”What if I fail”? you may ask. And what if you do? Failure isn’t a life sentence; it is a temporary situation. Preparing mentally and physically for failure and expecting obstacles and setbacks not only helps you to get back up on your feet but also helps you to build courage and strength (mental and physical). When we expect that there will be setbacks and that there is a good chance we may fail and maybe fail often, we are less disappointed or discouraged.

No Regrets

A palliative nurse (Bronnie Ware) from Australia, revealed the 5 most common regrets her patients in the last days of their lives had. Looking at each one of them, I can’t help but notice that they implicitly spoke of a lack of courage on their part (regretfully). What if they had had the courage to be themselves, to dream more and do more? What if they had had the courage to take a risk and do the things they wanted to do? What if they hadn’t listened to everyone else and not followed the expected path?

Fear keeps us from stepping out and taking risks. Fear holds us back from living authentically. The fear of what others will think of us or what they will say or do keeps us imprisoned. Ultimately, fear robs us of our life.

Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying:

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

  2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”.

  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”.

  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.

  5. ” I wish I had let myself be happier”

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca