In the field of personal development, there can be a misconception that risk-taking is a negative behavior. Certainly, there are some risky situations that can be detrimental or dangerous to our health and well-being, but often these are uncalculated risks. The act of taking a risk (and not just one involving high stakes Texas Hold 'Em) can do many things to promote neurological growth and development, improving our abilities to be cognitive, analytical adults. While we’re certainly not advocating to indulge in behaviors without thinking through the consequences first, like jumping into a high-roller online poker tournament, however, the right amount of positive risks can help you create the life you want and deserve.
A Positive Risk-Taking Approach
If you think back to your teenage years, chances are you took a lot more risks than you do now as an adult. That’s because to a developing mind, taking positive risks and challenging boundaries are necessary to learn about things like independence, identity and how to test authority. Even in adulthood, we still need to refresh these universal needs, and taking a risk can be a way to achieve that.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are major differences between negative and positive risk-taking behaviors. Negative risks are motivated by impulsive and emotional drivers whereas positive risks are calculated. It involves considering all the outcomes of the action you are about to take so you can anticipate how the action will serve your development. If you walk through your adult life holding your cards close to your chest, then a positive risk-taking approach will force you to confront what could be your greatest fear — the possibility of failure. Whether it’s something like asking for a pay rise or applying for a new job or even developing a new product or relocating to a new country. If you want to change the hand you’ve been dealt in life and with Omaha Hi-Lo, taking a measured risk with full awareness can help you do that.
Changes in the Brain
Taking risks not only develops us mentally and physically, but there can also be benefits to our neuroplasticity by engaging in activities we would ordinarily assume are risky like playing regular games of Texas Hold ‘Em. Studies have shown that the brain activities of professional poker players, for example, are remarkably different to those of a beginner. One of the areas of the brain that gets developed over time playing card games such as a Texas Hold 'Em is the nucleus accumbens, an area that also releases the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine is often linked with thrill-seeking behaviors, but as far as our bodies go, a release of dopamine acts as a strong motivator. That’s to say nothing of the other benefits that can come from learning a skill like playing poker, such as improving analytical and strategic skills, developing self-control and effective decision-making.
Why Healthy Risks Matter
Taking more healthy risks in life provides you with the opportunities to get in touch with and live out your unique abilities, talents and dreams. If you want to go all in on a life that is truly fulfilling, taking action that forces you to confront your fears opens you up to new ideas, experiences and skills. In any adult life, there will come a time when you have to risk criticism or failure in order to move forward, and the problem with being too risk-averse is that it can hold you back and generate a less-than-positive outcome. By embracing risk, however, a new sense of clarity comes in, and if a bold step you’ve taken doesn’t work then it will help you to be clearer about what you need to do next. On the other hand, if you double down like you would at the poker table and take a risk and receive your desired outcome, you’ll realize how exhilarating life can be. Too often we equate an outcome of failure with being unsuccessful, but, in truth, failure can provide the biggest possible stepping stone to success.