The Worst Thing That Could Happen


Risk scares the bejesus out of people. Many of us associate risk with failure, failure with pain. Yet we’re told we have to take plenty of risks to succeed. Thus, success must be painful, right? Not necessarily…

When it comes to challenging our preconceived notions about risk, the common platitudinal question that gets tossed around by kindhearted friends and self-help gurus is, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Truth be told, some risks are fairly benign: jettisoning most of your material possessions, asking a cute guy or girl for his or her phone number, writing the first page of the book you’ve always wanted to write. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Likely, nothing at all. There is no real risk in these innocuous endeavors.

Other risks, however, probably should scare the shit out of you: skydiving, purchasing a home, quitting your job. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Umm, some pretty awful shit actually: death, debt, and poverty, respectively. Although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take these risks; it means you should approach each risk with logic, reason, and intuition. Peer over the edge before taking your proverbial leap, and if it makes sense, then leap. Because not leaping can be a much bigger risk.

The difference, then, between the benign risks and the real risks, is that the latter possesses potentially life-altering worst-case consequences, while the former poses virtually no threat at all.

But, when you think about it, the benign risks can also hold life-altering consequences if you change the question: What is the best—not the worst, but the best—thing that could happen? Perhaps getting rid of your excess stuff will free up time and money and space and give you some much needed peace of mind. Perhaps that phone number will lead to a fulfilling relationship. Perhaps writing that first page… [Read more at The Minimalists]

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