We all dream of a life of comfort and pleasure. But how healthy do you really think this life would be? A life free of responsibilities, challenges, problems to solve, goals, and of purpose. How boring would that be? Waking up every morning in your luxurious mansion, sitting next to your pool sipping champagne cocktails, admiring the gold Rolex watch hanging off your tanned wrist would be great for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks - but imagine doing that your entire life? Humans are excited by progress, movement, and advancement. We need some risk in our lives. Without risk, there can be no return, and the ultimate goal in life is to find a happy balance between pleasure and pain.
The secret to a happy and fulfilling life is seeking out risk and discomfort and then calculating the expected return on this risk. If the return is greater than the risk, that is a green light. The system works through a risk/reward points system. You want to estimate the points of risk you are taking and then the expected points of return. I will run you through a few examples.
Example 1: Dating a Las Vegas stripper. There are numerous returns. Uninhibited sex, being the envy of your group of poker, and never having to stand in line at a nightclub. Let's assume this totals to 3 points of return - 2 points for the sex and half a point for the other two. Let's now consider the risks. If she is super hot and if you are a typical guy, you will want to shower her with expensive gifts, dinners, and vacations. If she is motivated, you will marry her and she will take half your money. Finally, every guy will drool over her and soon you will spend half your day worrying that she is cheating on you. That totals 9 points of risk - 3, 4, and 2 respectively. This is not a risk you want to take.
Example 2: Remaining in your 9 to 5 job or busting out and starting your own business.
You love your job because the people are great and the pay is good but you see little room for advancement. Your passion is to open a shop with vintage decor, a coffee bar, motorcycle gear, and the buying and selling of Harley Davidson bikes. Let's start with the risks. You are leaving a safe and controlled environment with dental, medical, and pension, and a reliable monthly paycheck. You will miss the work and the people. That is 4 points of risk - 2 for the loss of job security and one each for the people and the job. Now for the returns. You will be doing something you truly love and you will be your own boss. That, in my mind, is worth 6 points of return - 4 and 2 respectively. This is a green light scenario.
This points system is not limited to life-changing decisions. It can also be used in smaller day-to-day decisions that pop up in our lives such as going out with your mates to a nightclub, the purchase of an expensive pair of Italian shoes, attending an expensive conference, or abstaining from alcohol for 30 days.
Humans are not adapted for security. Sure, we like a degree of comfort because we are vulnerable, but we also want a foot in something dangerous. It.makes us feel alive, but we need to be careful. There is a difference between taking a smart risk - like starting your own hipster Harley shop, and a stupid risk - like marrying a Las Vegas stripper.