Taking Healthy Risks

August 9, 2009

In a population that has an endless thirst for safety mechanisms and cleansers, does the phrase “healthy risk” turn into an oxymoron?  I’m pretty comfortable with taking risks (some aren’t even healthy) and even I don’t consciously decide to take too many healthy ones.  We all unconsciously take them just like we all unconsciously eat healthy food on occasion.  But few of us consciously have a lifestyle of taking healthy risks just like few of us consciously have a lifestyle of eating healthy.

Healthy risks might be health risks When I started thinking about writing this post I decided to do a quick search and see what others out there had to say about taking healthy risks.  So I started out with a simple Google search of “healthy risks” and laughed at the irony when it asked if I meant “health risks”.  For me, a healthy risk has nothing to do directly with putting my health at risk.  In fact, I can’t think of a single healthy risk that didn’t improve my health, even the risks that didn’t pan out.  Perhaps I’ve been lucky or maybe the things that I’ve done aren’t that risky or perhaps I’ve just been good at mitigating that risk, I’m honestly not sure and that uncertainty makes me question what the definition of a healthy risk is.

It’s kind of a hard thing to define, even the internet doesn’t seem to provide a quick definition.  I can think of tons of examples of things that I consider healthy risks, but what I find risky might be mundane to someone else, so examples really don’t provide much of a definition either.  So after a bit of thinking here’s what I’ve come up with:  A healthy risk is doing something outside your comfort zone where the positive outcome is something that you desire and the negative outcome can eventually be recovered from.  A part of me wants to also add that a risk could be healthy if the negative outcome is unlikely, but would that still make it a risk?

Now that I’ve got a definition, I can actually start to seek out healthy risks to take instead of stumbling across them.  The only question left in my mind is, how many should I take?  Like everything else that we consume, there has to be an upper bound where above that a good thing turns bad.  Perhaps the need to step outside of what’s comfortable helps to make it a self regulating system, I’m not sure.  But I think to start with I’m just going to jump at the ones that present themselves to me and see where it takes me.  Maybe I’ll come to find out that I already had the appropriate amount in my diet.

What I do know is that I absolutely love the feeling of taking these kinds of risks and I’m going to chase that feeling a bit more.  If you’d like to chase it along with me, I’m thinking that Twitter is a good vehicle for sharing the healthy risks that we take and getting ideas for new ones to try out (use the hashtag #HealthyRisk).

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