A brief look at the growing research on risk-taking and happiness and the connection of happiness with social relationships, may give you pause to reconsider.
A consideration of risk-reducing strategies may even make it seem possible.
The definition of happiness held by most neuroscientists, psychiatrists, economists, positive psychologists and Buddhist Monks is not the original view of happiness as a state of good fortune but rather as a sense of well-being.
As such, researchers like David Lykken and Sonjya Lyubomirsky inform us that this state of happiness is a “many factored thing.”
As such, research suggests we can enhance our happiness because it is not a reflection of what we have–but what we do!!
Risk Taking to Improve Happiness
Research on how to enhance happiness examines the traits, attitudes and behaviors of those people who are found to be happy on screening and assessment measures.
A new study finds that people who enjoy taking risks may be more content and satisfied with their lives than those who play it safe. It seems that activities that may initially cause us to feel uncertainty and discomfort are actually associated with some of the most memorable and enjoyable life experiences.
Whether it is the neurophysiological perk of novelty, the feeling of mastery, or the success of pushing beyond our own expectations, risk-taking to explore the unknown, particularly when it is balanced with familiar feel good choices, is life enhancing.
What About Emotional Risk-taking?
Whereas most of the risks discussed in risk-taking research involve daring unknown experiences from new food choices to skydiving, it is worth recognizing that our happiness is also inevitably enhanced by the emotional risks we are willing to take.
Yes, but…the wish to have positive social relationships–whether you are a young child asking to play in the sandbox, a teen inviting a date to the party, a single meeting someone online, a spouse sharing a need or a senior entering a new community—can feel risky. It involves risking fear of rejection.
Fear of Rejection
Like most other fears, people can vary in the degree to which they fear rejection based on their history and life experiences. Some who have suffered with family rejection set out in life expecting it and avoiding it. Some have been blessed with such acceptance that they never expect it. Some can trace their fear of rejection to a certain period in their life like the school years. At any age, many have been caught off guard with a painful rejection.
Why Risk Fear of Rejection?
Risking fear of rejection is a crucial step in enhancing happiness. It is worth the risk because it involves stepping over history, fears and doubts to dare to appreciate self and trust that others will do so. The more risks you can take–the smaller the risk will feel.
Strategies for Risking Rejection
Consider some of these strategies as ways to regulate the fear and anxiety associated with the risk and to make the unexpected possible.
Wow – Some people were excited about being in the book club!
He didn’t give me his number, but he asked for mine—Maybe he wants to be in control?
Access Your Authenticity
When musicians, athletes, bird watchers, dog lovers etc. meet, they already have a connection.
Examine Your Expectations and Behaviors
Sometimes we call forth the very reaction we fear. Ask yourself:
Balance Your Tally of the Consequences
Often our fear of rejection is fueled by negative memories that keep us cautious and avoidant of risking social connection.
How often do we overlook the five compliments and rivet on the dismissal or critique of one person?
Broaden the Field
Assume the Best- Shake Off The Rest
It is easy to say “assume the best”—it is harder to do.
It might be easier to consider that regardless of what happens, the best part of risking rejection is the risk itself. It reflects the courage to leap over fear to options of connection in the future.
A mantra that helps with dealing with “the rest” comes from one of my children’s basketball coaches. When the team was losing and kids missed shots, he inevitably said, “ It’s ok – shake it off – every shot is a new one!!!
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MyHappy » Happiness Research News Digest for July 15, 2013 (July 15, 2013)
Last reviewed: 16 Jul 2013