Life is a lot like a poker game. Players put down their money and take a chance at either winning the jackpot or losing their shirts. There is both an element of luck and skill involved, but essentially it all comes down to what you’re willing to risk.
But let’s back things up a bit and examine the people who simply watch the game. They’re not willing to put the risk involved to see what happens. And that’s where the metaphor ends. You have a choice about playing poker, the game of life though is much different.
Taking Important Risks
If life is really like a game, then the key difference would be that you really don’t have a choice in whether you want to play it or not. It’s one big table and everyone has a seat. But that difference doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to risk.
In fact, I think of life and risk as the same thing. Everything about life is a risk. You could get into an accident or become ill at any moment. These are the everyday normal kind of risks that you often can’t avoid.
It’s the risks you have to actively search for and make a part of your life that matter most. They can bring you pain if they go wrong which is the biggest reason people avoid them. But they also make life worth living when they go right.
The five important risks in life are:
1. Caring about someone else
If you’ve ever gone through a bad break up or dissolved a friendship, you know just exactly how heart-breaking it can be to care about someone else. But that shouldn’t stop you from caring about another person.
Letting another person get close to you and caring about them deeply can be a scary thing. It would be so simple for them to break your trust and hurt you. But the beauty behind letting someone get close to you is that you get to know each other deeply and your bond together is tightly woven. That can be a great feeling.
2. Learning and trying new things
There’s always an element of risk when you’re trying something new. Starting a new activity like rock-climbing or surfing can be scary at first, but a large part of the fun is overcoming that fear.
The same goes for big life changes. If you want to go to grad school or move to another part of the world, you have to just jump in and do it. It’s impossible to do these incredible things without accepting a little bit of risk.
3. Following your passions and dreams
How many people’s dreams have been squashed before they ever got off the ground? It’s a sad, but true statement that most people never take their dream past the planning stage. Everyone should follow their dreams no matter how unlikely they think it will happen.
I started following my dreams because of a simple thought: when else am I going to do them? You can’t wait for things to happen to you. And it’s not as if you have another life waiting for you after you die so the best time to pursue your dreams will always be right now.
The downside to taking risks is that there is always a chance of failure. Otherwise they’d be known as sure-things. Of course failure remains the biggest obstacle for people to take those risks, but it shouldn’t stop you.
I’ve read that big companies in Silicon Valley will often pass over their own people for promotion to hire people who had started up companies that later went bankrupt. Apparently, they like the guts of people who will risk bankruptcy and failure. That’s a good lesson for life in general.
5. Your viewpoints
Everyone has a view of what’s going on in the world and how things work. Expressing how you feel can be risky since you don’t know how people will react. You might find some people will be hostile to your opinions. You might even find that your opinion is misplaced.
Many people are content to just sit on the sidelines and refuse to stand up for their viewpoint. But you can’t be afraid of saying how you feel because it might be unpopular or wrong. People who are making the most out of their lives have unique opinions and insights into things. A big part of living life fully comes in being able to express those points of view.
Risks are Necessary for a Full Life
I can definitely see life as a game and the risks we take are just the ante we use to play it. And even though taking risks means you might fail from time to time, it is better than not taking any risks at all and living life below your potential.
Besides, when you see life as a game it changes your whole attitude about winners and losers. Games work best when even those who lose still have fun. You might as well take a risk and see what you’re capable of. Otherwise, you’re just sitting at the table watching life play out in front of you.
photo credit: banspy