Do you always play it safe? We all have our personal risk profiles. Some people climb mountains without safety ropes, while others won’t climb more than two steps up a ladder. People who suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem, like bullying victims, tend to be the most risk-averse. In a pandemic, being careful to adhere to all the guidelines is useful. But in life in general, being over-cautious means you miss out on things you could safely have done.
Researchers in the UK were working with a group of 400 children and found that teaching them chess decreased their risk aversion. In the game of chess, you need to be able to take prudent risks – maybe sacrificing a piece to gain a decisive advantage. Chess was a safe environment for the children to experiment with risk – the worst thing that could happen was that they lost the game.
If you are feeling risk aversion is holding you back, look for a similar safe environment where you can practice taking small risks. If you are anxious about speaking to strangers, join a club or association where everybody has an interest in common. In this environment, it will be easier to ask a stranger a question because you can expect everybody to want to share their knowledge and love of your common subject.