top of page

How to Live a Well-risked Life

“Sit as little as possible; give credence to no thought that is not born in the open air and accompanied by free movement — in which the muscles do not also celebrate a feast.” ~Nietzsche

Comfort and safety are overrated. A well-lived life requires at least a little discomfort and danger. All things in moderation of course, but too much comfort can lead to laziness, softness, and brittleness. Too much safety can lead to privilege, blind faith, and the tendency to take things for granted.

So the task becomes discovering the sweet spot. Where does safety meet freedom, and how do we keep freedom just far enough ahead of safety that we don’t kill ourselves? Likewise, where does comfort meet courage, and how do we keep freedom just far enough ahead of comfort that we are consistently stretching our comfort zone?

Here are a few strategies to leverage a little more courage and freedom in our lives so that we may live a more well-risked life.

Don’t be risk-averse:

“In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid risk. They will seek instead to repeat something safe that’s been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen.” ~Ed Catmull

This one seems like a given. But risk-avoidance is a huge hurdle. Most people will subconsciously put self-preservation over self-improvement or even self-empowerment. They will succumb to cognitive dissonance before they accept an uncomfortable truth. They will remain tight in a comfortable bud at the expense of uncomfortable blooming.

Don’t be risk-averse. Break the trend. Choose self-empowerment over self-preservation. Choose strategic risk over complacent comfort. Risk-taking is superior to script-following. Vitality abhors complacency. Creativity loathes laziness. Adventure despises comfort. To live life well you must be prepared to lose it.

Try this: go on your own Hero’s Journey. Escape the default setting. Set up spaces where self-empowerment and uncomfortable blooming are possible. Set up stages where the art of a life well-lived can be acted upon. Make possibility possible.

Taking the Hero’s Journey is the epitome of a life well-lived. Win or lose, adapt and overcome or crash and burn, live long or die young; either way, if it happens while in the adventurous throes of a Hero’s journey, it’s a win.

The only way to lose is to forever remain stuck in the default setting. To forever be grinded down by the daily grind. To forever chase the tails of the other rats caught up in the rat race. To forever conform to just being another cog in the clockwork. To forever remain risk-averse.

The way to win is to consistently escape the default setting. To question the lot. To take risks. To understand that default settings, like comfort zones, are good for regrouping and licking wounds but terrible for self-expansion, spiritual growth, adventure, or a life well-lived.

As Jen Sincero said, “There is no riskier risk than refusing to risk at all.”

Live with hope; love without hope:

“The only way of loving a person is to love them without hope.” ~Walter Benjamin

The embodied life at play in the world is the only action that can foster deep wisdom rather than superficial knowledge in the world.

What is the embodied life at play? It’s living on purpose, with purpose. It’s living with hope, full-frontal, unbridled, and overflowing in mind, body, and soul. It’s rising above the superficial song and dance of politics, the artificial smoke and mirrors of religion, and the insincere cartoon in the brain of cultural conditioning.

Indeed. Living with hope is loving without hope. Because if you are genuinely allowing yourself to love, then you must open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt. This is what it means to be vulnerable. If you’re not “all in,” then what’s the point of trying? Living with hope is being “all in.” Loving without hope is being so absolutely open to possibility that your heart breaks.

It’s a tough lesson. But pain should not be avoided at the expense of love. Love should be embraced at the risk of pain. Challenging indeed.

Loving without hope means allowing love to be free. It’s being in love with life as it comes. It’s accepting that everything is connected and then deciding to be in love with the whole thing regardless: from the trauma to the drama to the mana. It’s loving in an attempt to understand, to discover, and to co-create rather than to control.

Loving without hope is loving dangerously, courageously, vulnerably, and honestly. Which is likely to hurt. Therefore, loving without hope is being open-hearted enough to be okay with having your heart broken. In fact, loving without hope is about becoming adept at adapting to heart break. It’s about overcoming the slings and arrows of life and becoming resilient, robust, and antifragile despite the pain.

It's the deep understanding that life is less about getting what you want and more about making the best of what you get. Loving without hope is acceptance and deep surrender to the process. Living with hope is making the best of it.