15 Dec Happiness is controlled risk
The world can be a dangerous place; and accordingly, we shoud do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm. But the world can also be a wonderfully exciting place if we try new things and challenge ourselves. Finding the balance between overprotection and taking calculated risks is part of the secret to happiness.
Not that long ago I took a few days leave from work and went away with my wife and kids for a short break. It was a great few days, with just enough to do to keep us all entertained and to avert boredom, but also with plenty of rest and relaxation which was much needed.
Among other things, we went on a few adventures and one of which culminated in what I can honestly say was one of the most enjoyable activities I”ve participated in for quite some time; we went sliding down sand dunes!
The wind-blown dunes just a few hours north of Sydney comprise the largest continuous mobile sand mass in New South Wales. Many of the dunes are more than thirty metres high and they make a perfect surface for sliding down on a sheet of cardboard or, as we ended up doing, something more elaborate hired from a friendly, local company.
Now as I noted above, the dunes we were taken to were about thirty or forty metres high which for my two young children, not to mention my wife, looked quite daunting. Thankfully, it was possible to move along the top of the “cliff” towards a less steep and less high part of the dune which is what we did to begin with.
After a while, however, my daughter and I worked out that by dragging your hands behind you, which is something you had to do for balance anyway, you could effectively control the speed at which you raced down the slope. Essentially, if you wanted to, you could push your arms down quite hard and slowly ease your way down the slope at a snail’s pace; alternatively, you could just lightly touch your hands to the sand, just for the sake of balance, and fly down at a rapid pace!
Now as well as being great fun, my daughter and I learned an important lesson while slipping and sliding down these dunes; and that was that once you”d learned how to use your arms for balance and for speed control the size and steepness of the slope became irrelevant. Having a “tool” with which you could remain in control rendered even the largest and steepest dune very un-scary.
And it struck me, on reflection, that this was very much like life in that if you have strategies from which you can gain control, and if you practice and master these strategies so that you”re capable and competent to use them when you need to, then even taking risks or making changes in life need not be scary or daunting.
Wouldn”t it be great if we could take on challenges and make positive changes in our lives with confidence? Well we canê¢__‘Ô_all we need to do is develop a repertoire of “control” strategies, especially ones that are relevant to our lives and ones that are appropriate for our circumstances, and practice them until we can utilise them effectively.