“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller
An Austrian daredevil named Felix Baumgartner recently jumped from the edge of space with nothing between him and the earth besides a thin nylon parachute and some strings. Leaping from a platform 128,000 feet above the planet, he dropped 24 miles in 4 minutes, traveling at a speed of 830 miles per hour to break the sound barrier and land safely in New Mexico.
While some people no doubt shook their heads in disbelief at Felix’s daring stunt, others received a vicarious thrill just thinking about the wild maneuver. Perhaps they know what several recent studies show: people who take risks are usually happier than those who stay safely in the harbor, with their boats tied to the shore.
Some people are natural risk takers, drawn to the new and unknown like flies to honey. But you don’t have to jump out of a plane from space to add a little heart-squeezing risk into your life. Try the following suggestions to infuse your daily routine with a healthy dose of risk.
1. Find an interesting neighborhood you’d like to walk around, and get lost on purpose (you can always bring your smart phone for GPS backup). Observe how your senses brighten when you submerge yourself in an unknown environment.
2. Go out alone. Some people wouldn’t dream of going out to dinner, a movie or a party alone – but you must learn to enjoy your own company! Start with a small outing and work your way up to a big event, and feel the fearlessness well within you.
3. Head to the nearest amusement park and ride the biggest, scariest ride there. Twice.
4. Sign up for an adult education class to learn a skill that you would love to have but are a total beginner at now: sushi preparation, knitting, furniture re-upholstery, welding, gourd carving, bird watching or tap dancing – pick something crazy and do it!
5. Buy and wear out a pretty dress or suit that’s so not your style.
6. Have you been putting off an important conversation that needs to happen because when you think about it, you get butterflies in your stomach? It’s time to chat.
7. Try a new restaurant whose cuisine you are unfamiliar with, and order a dish off the menu that you’ve never heard of. You may just find a new favorite Ecuadorian appetizer, Ethiopian entrée or Moroccan dessert!
8. Brainstorm a page of risks you could take in your career, both big and small. Pick one and make it happen.
9. What thrills you – or at least which of the following ideas are you least terrified of? Choose from: trapeze lessons, bungee jumping, skydiving, stock car racing, white water rafting, mountain climbing or surfing. Sign up now to add some adventure and excitement to your life – and meet other risk takers at the same time!
10. Book a trip to a foreign destination where you’ve never been – but have always dreamed of going – and plan your next vacation. Bonus points: do it alone.
11. Say hello and give a big smile to next cute stranger you meet.
12. Write down a list of your wildest dreams. Don’t hold back, whether you want a beach house in the Mediterranean, a family of ten kids, a global business selling cupcakes or eight hours every day gardening in your backyard. Don’t stop until the entire page is filled.