My husband and I have very different tolerance levels and feelings about risk. He’s a private pilot who loves flying glider airplanes and riding his fast motorcycle, but I, on the other hand, am a scary cat flyer (even on commercial airplanes), and after he took me — just once — on his motorcycle speeding 80 MPH on the freeway, I never saddled back on. However, I am comfortable taking other types of risks, like starting my own business, which my husband would be very adverse to doing on his own.
In order to live a truly fulfilling life, we must take risks, as Deepak Chopra says, “A risk-free life is far from being a healthy life.” So if risks become a necessary part of our lives to achieve happiness, the question then becomes what kinds of risks should we take? There are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy risks. Needless to say, we should all be taking good risks, but as individuals, each with our own journey, these risks can be vastly different for each and every one of us. So how do we each determine healthy risks that can help improve our lives and serve our individual happiness? In my own personal journey, I have taken a number of risks: some turned out well and, others, not so much, so I’ve created guidelines for myself to measure whether the risk is worthwhile.
I believe the number one reason for taking risks is to fulfill our passion and purpose, which are both deeply connected to our spirituality, a union that is undeniable. This union is our Being, so the risk becomes almost a necessary process in our journey through life because we can’t avoid or reject it. As a fish must swim and can do nothing else, we must fulfill our inner calling, which often manifests as our passions. My husband loves airplanes and flying, so every time he flies a glider (which doesn’t even have an engine), I get very nervous, but he finds it so natural and peaceful, like his own meditation. I would never discourage him from flying just because of my own fear. That would be selfish, robbing him of his natural sense of being and, therefore, happiness when he flies. High mountain climbers, who attempt to reach the peaks of Mount Everest, are also high risk takers. Knowing that there is a good chance they won’t return alive, they still climb. Because their passion and spirituality are so connected to the outdoors, they do not think twice about making the dangerous trek because it is something they must do. Or how about astronauts who make their way up to space knowing their odds of returning to Earth are slim. Their wondrous curiosity about space, tied to an inner yearning for exploration, makes them travel to stars far beyond our comprehension.
When you’re passionate about something, there is no regret in taking the risk regardless of the potential consequences. I remember watching the aftermath interview of the parents whose astronaut daughter died in a shuttle explosion. They said their daughter was so passionate about space exploration that she would have died without any regrets. They believed that their daughter was better off dying young doing what she loved than living long with a life of no meaning.
Once you discover your passion, your higher purpose sprouts, and when it blooms strong, the risks feel natural because there is an inner engine, which you can’t stop, that is automatically driving it along. Knowing that promoting healthy living was my true purpose, I was willing to take a significant risk, using a lot of my own personal resources. My sense of purpose in what I do is connected to my inner core so I would never regret pursuing this course regardless of the outcome.
With a deep sense of purpose, you will naturally find your risk zone in a comfortable place, which creates a more easy flow in your life. Risks also serve as our best teachers because, through the experience, we are discovering and learning new things about ourselves, which help us to grow and mature. We learn how to better evaluate situations and become better decision makers. With healthy risk, there’s always a sense of excitement and confidence in what you’re doing, so if you’re really stressed about the risk, like it’s a heavy burden, that’s a bad sign and I would ask you to re-evaluate very carefully. Healthy risks should not carry loaded stress, but feel more like an unknown adventure, as if you’re opening a gift with a surprise in it. The more you’re in touch with your inner center, the more you’ll be able to find healthy risks, so finding your center has such a practical application in helping you take risks.
As we meander through life’s obstacle course, have the courage to take risks that fuel your passion and purpose, which are the foundations for living a fulfilling life!
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living