Running Out Of Risk

Hello again and salutations to my fellow wordpress wanderers. I’m writing this not only to share my perspective, but also to ask for your opinion. Strange times call for asking strangers on the internet for advice, right?

I recently returned home after spending 2 weeks in the beautiful country of Croatia. Reminiscing on the trip floods me with emotions. Traveling and living like a nomad brings me so much life. I feel energized, inspired, alive. I am entirely engaged in the present moment. That boundless sense of freedom you feel while riding your 50cc moped across a random sleepy island in the Adriatic sea. Zigzagging our way across Hvar, oblivious to the time or even the day. The only map we followed was the little voice in our heads saying ‘this way, this way.’ Those feelings will stay with me forever. But was it worth waiting the whole year for that trip?

Although I’m an ardent advocate for finding simple pleasures in our every day lives, it’s also important to recognize when your current routine isn’t working anymore. As I’ve been settling back into my routine, I can’t help but recognize the level of complacency. I have no complaints with my life right now; I have everything I need and want, there’s just something missing—risk.

The past 5 years of my life I’ve experienced constant change and growth. Through college I had 11 internships (8 international), played soccer in the NCAA Conference Carolinas for 4 years, studied abroad in 3 countries, and lived in England, Spain, and all over Italy for 18 months. Some people fear change, others thrive in it. Some, like myself, cannot live without it.

To me, change and risk go hand in hand. With change, there’s an innate component of risk that it might not work out. You may regret it and be worse off, but there’s a chance you might be happier than you could’ve ever imagined. That chance I have to fight for freedom and happiness—that’s what pulls me out of bed each morning. That’s what keeps me going. That’s the fire I feel burning under me. That’s what I’m missing.

My plan is to live, work, and study for my master’s degree abroad again within the next 2 years. My problem isn’t that I feel the need to rush it, it’s that I feel like my ‘peak’ happiness isn’t here anymore, it’s in the future. It seems far away.

I have found myself joining the eminent epidemic of hedonic adaptation. Which is defined as, “the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” Unfortunately, being aware of this psychological trick our brain plays on us doesn’t make us immune to it.

These questions remain with me: Why can’t I be as happy in my life with less risk? Do I need risk to be happy? Why do I see my happiest self in the future?

Does anyone else feel the need to have a heavy component of risk in their life like me?

As always, thanks for reading, and if you want to read the article I mentioned about simple pleasures read:

You can find my personal blog here:

Namaste 🙂

61 thoughts on “Running Out Of Risk

    1. Hi Lisa! Do you think growing up and maturity played an influence in you being content with less risk? It’s definitely an intriguing to see how age can play a role. -Ellen

      1. Yes for me I think it did. Now that I really think about it. Maybe it had a lot to do with being married and raising children. Now they are grown and marriage is over I feel I would enjoy a little more risk than I previously stated.

  1. The risk makes us act, makes us think, listen to our heart or just experience.
    If everything would be without risk, then there wouldn’t be any gain.
    We would already know that something would work or wouldn’t and then there would be no point in life.

    But it is one thing to have a risk which is one we put us into ourselves and something completely different, when others try to push us towards it. Then a risk other could enjoy, could turn into a painful or horrible experience.

    Risk could also mean to just take a walk, instead of taking the car or the other way around.
    It depends on how you see it. One feels safer with a car and another one without or with a moped. 😀

    Thanks for sharing a part of your life and also the cool photo! 💗💓

    1. Hi JPK, I love that first sentence of yours, that risk makes us listen to our heart and our experience. I think that’s a huge factor of why I love risk so much, it makes you draw on all your knowledge, experience, logic, but most of all your gut feeling. Thanks for reading and for your comment. <3E

  2. I’m an ex drug addict. Back when my drug problems first started, I was taking drugs more often and in larger quantities than most of my peers, and often secretively. A counsellor suggested a big part of my issue was a need for risk and excitement, which I fulfilled in sometimes harmful ways. Mindfulness was a big help for me, it helped reduce the urge to feel my greatest happiness was always in the future. “We only have now,” as Sam Harris says. And that helped me to make the most of each moment, big an small, without needing to judge it as “good”, “bad”, “better”, or “worse”. Life is comprised of millions of mundane moments, plus as few peak ones. I think the trick is to learn to focus your attention on both equally. Then you can fall in love with “now”, no matter what you’re doing. I hope this helps.

    1. One way I add risk to my like now is by running my own business. There are so many risks to mitigate and manage! Sure it’s not the same thing as travelling, but it sure gets my old grey matter upstairs tingling!

    2. Hi Rock, thanks for sharing your story. I love the part about not needing to label each moment as good, bad, better, or worse–that really resonated with me. Lately I feel like I’ve been caught up in thinking about the ‘better’ moments that lie ahead, but that shouldn’t take away from the beauty of the present. Thank you for helping me see that tonight! Take care and best of luck! <3E

  3. I’d substitute the word “risk” with “challenge” and it’ll make better sense. Challenge keeps you engaged and growing and feels inherently rewarding.

  4. ellieejay, It is probably the right time of your life to want to travel and seek adventure. I have taken risks and followed an unconventional path most of my life. There are many types and levels of risk. Hope you find your desired level of risk again! All the best! Cheryl <3

    1. Hi Cheryl, “unconventional” is one of my favorite words to describe my life thus far! I agree, there are many levels of risk and maybe I can try to find some smaller risks here in the meantime. Thanks for sharing! <3 Ellen

  5. I wish I had the courage and the desire to take on risks like you do! I think there are other risks that you can challenge yourself with. There are plenty of opportunities out there ! I think you just need to find the right one for you! 🙂 Good luck!

    1. I think everyone has it in them, it just emerges when the time is right! And you have a good point—there are many different types of “risk,” even small ones that would probably make a huge difference. Thanks for sharing! <3E

  6. “eminent epidemic of hedonic adaptation”

    I miss those days. Enjoy them while you can. Not a lot of raw hedonism at my age and in my situation.

    And as for risk. Risk is a young person’s game. I took risks that seem insane now that I look back at them. I was young and immortal and bounced back quickly from any loss. I was fast on my feet and agile in my mind and prided myself on how I could let hardship roll off my back.

    Take your risks now. As time goes on you will accumulate obligations which discourage risk. Eventually, the older you get the less likely you will survive failure.

    1. Hi Fred, it’s good to hear from you again! I really appreciate your insight and I think that’s what I might have been subconsciously thinking? I feel like I may be feeling that if I don’t take big risks now, when am I going to take them? I’m reflecting and I think this feeling, although I’ve always loved risk and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, has been sparked by my trip and also the fact that almost 10 months have gone by in a year that’s felt like it’s been on standby. Very intriguing food for thought…. thanks for sharing! -Ellen

      1. I didn’t get to do a lot of things I might have when I was younger and I chickened out on a few more. (That may be a good thing as I’ve never been arrested.) My list of regrets would be long if I let it get to me and I would have had quite a glorious life story if I’d done some of those things when I could.

        So get out there and kiss some arse. Be the next Diana Rigg.

  7. Perhaps you need to define your purpose in life. And start working towards it. Happiness is bound to follow. You cannot pursue happiness and find it. It comes when you do what you like. Perhaps risk taking will find a place in your defined purpose.

    1. Hi Meeta, I see what you’re saying but I just disagree with the first part. I think it’s important to work towards something everyday, but rather that those are goals, not specifically a purpose. You cannot pursue your purpose, it should come to you organically. I also believe having a defined purpose in life won’t make you unhappy, more so not having goals you work towards everyday will lead to unhappiness. But I do think it could be likely that risk taking can help you find your purpose, at least in a roundabout way. And that happiness and purpose are definitely linked together. <3 thanks for sharing! -Ellen

      1. Happiness is the end goal but it takes more than just wanting to be happy to achieve happiness. That’s why I’m contemplating how much of a factor risk plays in mine. But the deciding factor remains, whatever you believe it is, it is.

  8. Nice! I’m someone who’s afraid of risk! Yet, something that makes me feel truly fulfilled is expanding – creatively, emotionally, spiritually – and I don’t always feel this in the present moment (only when I look back in the future). That can make it really hard for me to enjoy the process.

    1. That’s an interesting point… that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re expanding in the present moment. Maybe because it’s going on in the background without us really noticing it, or because we’re fully engaged in it and not labeling it as “expanding” in the present moment. It’s a good reminder to enjoy the process 🙂 Thanks for the food for thought! <3E

  9. I think life is a balance, at some point in life, it’s not an age but at some point in life you stop living or craving constant high risk. At least for me, but I’m much older than you. I think it;s important to remember just because you’re not living exactly like you want to at the moment doesn’t mean your not living that way. Can you really say your goal is to live like that all the time, if it is then you could make it happen. I think we have to balance where we are now and what we are working for. You are working for your next big opportunity, sometimes things don’t come right away. On the other hand if that is how you want to live all the time, you need to make it happen now. The younger the better. Life get’s more complicated as you get older and other people are involved.

    1. Hello and I really appreciate your insights here, especially the part about balance, which has always resonated with me. Just because I’m not living the life I see myself in a few years from now living, doesn’t mean this part isn’t as important. I see it now that way. Because I wouldn’t appreciate my dream as much if I didn’t put all this work in during this stage of my life. I definitely know that I can’t/don’t want to go and travel and start my businesses around the world yet. I’m enjoying getting work experience, saving money, and working towards that future every day. I remember in all of my travels I did miss having a routine, and a gym, and a weekly schedule. Now I’m taking those things for granted. Thanks for the epiphany and take care! <3Ellen

      1. Thank or aking the time to comment. Balance is something I think we all have to constantly work on. It’s also being present in the moment which a catch phase I dislike but it’s true. We have to put in the work on the front end and wait till the time is right in order to move forward to the next stage in our life. Have a great day.

      2. You’re welcome, but actually thank you! Responding to the thoughtful comments people wrote who took time out of their day to read my post brings so much joy to my day and is one of my favorite parts of blogging. And that’s funny, I loathe the phrase “being in the present moment” too, I actually wrote a whole blog post about how it basically means rubbish! I think the slight demeaning undertone completely takes away from the nuance and beauty of the message. And lastly, I do agree sometimes we do have to put the work in to live the life we want in the future, and it’s a privilege to do that which I shouldn’t take for granted. Thanks for all your thoughts! Have a great weekend. <3E

      3. You do the same. It’s so easy to take everything for granted. I just catch myself almost everyday on autopilot and have to stop. I guess that’s why we’re human and alwasy improving, or hopefully trying to improve.

  10. I’m not a big risk taker. I used to find a focus in surviving and the struggle in myself but not really in risks.
    My other release is in creating. It’s slow ( whether in paint or plants ) but can be wonderful too.

    Risk or danger seems to me to be good at heightening feelings that are already there but maybe more subtle. Perhaps ( and this is just conjecture ) the trick is in getting better at hearing the subtle feelings? I mean, the usual reaction is to look for something stronger ( like adding salt to food or turning up the music ) but sometimes that can lose some of the nuance.

    1. Hi and thanks for sharing! To me I connect challenge/change/risk here, and I do find it a rewarding challenge, almost a risk, in overcoming my personal struggles and pursuing growth. There’s a lot of risk and reward there. I also like your point about the beauty of nuances… sometimes more doesn’t mean more. Take care, <3E

  11. I like adventure and new places, it definitely doesn’t have to be risky though. Just being vulnerable in some way can be considered risky and can help us grow, even in small ways 👌

    1. Hi Kellie! I love that, just being vulnerable can be considered a risk….. I’m going to let that fully simmer with me for a few days. I think there’s a lot of ways I’m vulnerable and haven’t realized it, and even some areas of my life I can be more vulnerable in…. Thanks for the food for thought I really appreciate it! Take care 🙂 <3E

  12. I’ve been feeling like God took a risk on me, loving me and dying for me. Shouldn’t I be willing to take a risk? Accept myself and love myself… I’d be in good company. Also to take a risk and do new things. Make new friends. Write and keep writing. Don’t give up but keep trying, practicing, and getting better. Doesn’t God deserve my best? Life is full of risks. If I remain the same, good things might pass me by.

    1. Hi Brenda, thanks for your comment! I really like that comparison of God dying for us, so we should be willing to take risks in our lives too. It really puts things in perspective doesn’t it? And I liked how you showed the comparison of taking the risk to keep writing, and to love and accept yourself which is a continuous, persistent journey…. Thanks for the food for thought, I can definitely see how there are small, yet huge risks in my every day life…. Best of luck! <3E

  13. In my opinion you have become dependent on excitement. Excitement isn’t happiness, it may be enjoyable for a while but there is always the flip side, which you want to avoid, so you seek more of what is exciting. Happiness is, or should be uncaused. Enjoy this period, observe the rhythm of nature, notice how it’s un-phased by what happens it does what it does to survive, I don’t believe you need excitement to survive

    1. Hi Jeff, I can see how excitement can play a part, but to me it’s more of the risk and the challenge, which relates to excitement but is different than purely seeking joy, entertainment, a laugh, etc. I do think there may be a heightened affinity for change though which is my main culprit. Constantly seeking more and more change seems like a dead end road to me in the long run, but in the short term is that icing on the cake for me. I do agree that observing the rhythm of nature and listening to my inner self will be an antidote. Thanks for your comment 🙂 ~Ellen

  14. I appreciate your article. It brought back thoughts of my traveling days. Please let me think out loud.

    You use the words inspired, alive, fire, fear, risk, happiness, and change. When you use the word “fear” it sounds like you are referring to the anticipation of handling something spontaneous occurring in an unfamiliar environment where the outcome may be negative. Risk goes hand-in-hand with fear. Does fear bring happiness? Does risk taking bring happiness? Fear is the thought. Risk is tied to the experience although it is a perceived possibility of loss. The opposite of fear is love. Love requires risk. Love is the fire within. Love is in the experience which is always changing. Is love a peak experience? Does love require us to change if we are to have peak experiences? To love is to feel the source of the fire from the inside/out? If we readily adapt to change are we more open to love? Can we be happy without anticipating loss? Can we do this as individuals or does it require something from the outside/in to fan the flames within? What really is there to lose?

    You are living an amazing life and your plans sound equally amazing. You are blessed. Be safe and well.

    1. Hi Tim, first of all thank you for sharing. I read your comment a couple days ago but wanted to take some time to mull over all the thought-provoking questions you laid out. Those questions pertain to the pillars of our psychology in life.. Love, fear, risk, happiness, loss. I think the beauty is that we could all come up with different answers for them, and even differ in ourselves from day to day. Those emotions are so deeply intertwined with one another and can vary from experience to experience. I’m starting to see now that maybe my fascination with risk/fear/love/challenge comes from this (previously) subconscious understanding that they bring me so much vibrance and energy for life and none of them are guaranteed from one day to the next. It’s as if risk+fear+love quench my thirst for life, but instead of adding water to the fire it’s gasoline.

      I will do my best to answer some of your questions from my point of view….
      I think love is a peak experience and does require us to change quite a bit. Not to vary from our true selves, but more to mature such as a caterpillar to a butterfly. And to have peak experiences some things must change otherwise they won’t be a peak experience anymore. I think to love could mean recognizing a similar fire in someone else and feeling it yourself from within….. But you also feel the warmth of a fire externally right? 🙂 I do think if we readily adapt to change we are going to be more open to all kinds of experiences, love being one of them and arguably the most important. I think it’s much easier to be happier when we anticipate but overcome some risk or loss. It zaps us out of our hedonic adaptation and getting used to how things were.

      Now… can you answer those questions you laid out? 🙂 I’d be really interested to hear your point of view as you seem to be analytical yet drawn to feelings as well. Take care and I hope you have a great weekend! ~Ellen

  15. I think “risk” and “challenge” are good ways to describe your passion for change. It is good to change directions and experiences and locations when you are young. I have had about three instances where I took a large risk; attending graduate school, and two self-employment endeavors. I learned the most about myself with such large outcomes at stake, and the success being mostly on my own fruition. Now that I have hit age 40, I would mostly like consistency-probably not a pattern, or a boring routine, but predictable outcomes, and more guaranteed success with the activities I engage in. Of course, that being said, I am now taking classes in marketing, web design, photography, and entrepreneurship, so I’m definitely not sticking to a mundane complacent existence. I do also have the problem of thinking I will be happier, or feel more accomplished in the future, and it is also good to “live for today, and make plans for tomorrow,” so you don’t become depressed or unsatisfied. Connecting with different people and learning from their stories and expertise also helps. I’m glad you shared your experiences!

    1. Hi and thanks for sharing! Your experience is admirable and very similar to what I envision myself doing in the future. The part that really resonated with me is the quote you shared. Somehow I’ve never heard it put quite that way before but it’s really struck a chord with me today. “Live for today, make plans for tomorrow.”…. 🙂 I do find myself thinking I’ll be happier in the future, but I guess that’s the point because it means I am doing the necessary work towards my goals today for that to happen. You can’t really have a better tomorrow if you throw everything to the wolves today can you? 🙂 Thanks for sharing and giving me a mantra to focus on! <3E

  16. I feel so connected to what you are saying. The only time in my life that I have ever felt alive is when I have allowed myself to take risks. Change is so good for us, why doesn’t everyone see it that way? I love your post and completely relate! Thank you!

    1. Hey amy! I totally relate with you. The times I can look back in my life when I’ve felt alive and the fire burning beneath me is when I took a huge risk. I can still remember those moments like they were yesterday. I love change and a challenge so much that I feel like the next change is all I can think about sometimes which isn’t very sustainable. Have you ever felt this way being that you love change so much too? Thanks for commenting! -E

      1. Yesss, of course I have felt that way!:) It is empowering and gives me a sense of confidence from the growth I experience. Knowing that life is short is a huge motivation. I am presently thinking about taking three months off to travel somewhere abroad. Do yoga every morning, read, drink tea on the porch, have breakfast by the garden… any tips on my voyage???

      2. Thats so cool!! Where do you plan on going? I’m so excited for you!! And those activities all sound great. When I’m traveling my goal is to be as present as possible so I do yoga every morning, eat a mindful breakfast, take walks/hikes at sunset, and definitely keep a travel journal to document your thoughts/feelings/etc. Where are you planning on going?!

  17. I think we are who we are. If we do what we would like to do and are good people then we are doing the right thing. If we are running from something then that is a different story.

  18. Thank you for sharing this. I think I find myself living near the opposite end of the spectrum. I am a little bit risk averse. But. My life is missing something if I’m not learning something new each day, if I don’t put my pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and bring new characters and worlds to life, if I don’t pick up my guitar and play.

    These are the things that keep me getting out of bed in every morning. Different types of risk, I guess.

    1. I think those are definitely still types of risk, and risks that I have been overlooking in my life recently. There’s so much risk in every day, and I would be amiss if I failed to recognize it. Feeling it, is another thing though. Feelings don’t always make sense or have logic. It’s invigorating to me to find small risks in my every day life… even if it may seem difficult to find those right now. But, a change of perspective can change everything. Thanks for sharing, hope you played your guitar today 🙂 <3E

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