One Simple Trick For Being Braver

2010 March 3

Here on GenMeh, I like to mix pragmatism in with the pep talks, so assuming that you’re theoretically on board with the just because message in my previous post, how do you move from nodding along to actually going out and, ya know,¬† doing stuff?

Photo by ontilnow

The trick to countering cowardice/natural reticence/an overabundance of fretful caution¬† is surprisingly simple. If you want to take more risks*, you need to reframe how you evaluate the risks. Stop asking why and start asking why not. When you’re contemplating a decision (joining an ultimate frisbee league, asking out the girl who sits two rows back and three seats down from you in Advanced Spanish, applying for the Peace Corps, etc.), don’t think of reasons why you should do X, take the decision as a given and simply debunk any arguments against it. The burden of proof is on your cautious side to provide a persuasive argument against the activity, not on your bold self (which for many of us might not be so bold in the first place) to convince you to pull the trigger.

Think of weddings. The officiant doesn’t ask those of us in the pews to brainstorm good reasons why the bride and groom should actually go through with the whole marriage deal (Jared will make a great father someday! Kim is a wizard at budgeting!), he or she simply asks if anyone has objections or can show just cause why the pair shouldn’t get hitched. The decision is taken as a given and it’s up to the bride’s first husband (presumed dead in a horrible fire and now unrecognizable due to the reconstructive surgery) to come barreling down the aisle at the eleventh hour to prevent the bigamy in progress.

It’s much easier to logically refute objections as to why you shouldn’t do something (But maybe that dude in my Spanish class who just asked me out is a serial killer? Hmm… but would a serial killer have such excellent dental hygiene and be so comfortable with eye contact?) than it is to require yourself to list five compelling reasons to support the implementation of any out-of-the-norm decision. This isn’t an exam. The universe doesn’t offer partial credit for showing your work, kiddos.

So, why not? And why not NOW? Get back to me once you’ve come up with an airtight reason. And FYI, irrefutable is a hell of a lot harder in practice than in theory.

* And by risks, I simply mean anything that falls outside of your well-worn comfort zone and not, say,  base-jumping off the Chrysler building. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

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