How to keep yourself safe

  1. Stop worrying so much about being safe.

Life isn’t safe. Excellence isn’t safe. Innovation isn’t safe. Fun isn’t safe. And truly, what’s “safe” for the short-term is often not so over time. Staying at home and watching TV is safe, but it boredom and inactivity are perilous in their own ways. Staying in a job that you don’t love is safe, but burnout and lack of interest are real dangers.

It’s OK to get dirty, to get a few bruises, to get lost. These are often some of our most memorable and transformative experiences. Sure, there are limits. Common sense things— wear a helmet, tell someone where you’re going. But for pete’s sake, go! When I go to my krav maga class, I don’t take hard hits to the head, but I get hit. I get bruises. This is a good thing— it lets me know that I don’t need to shut down and freak out if I get a little roughed up. Because in life, you WILL get roughed up, even if you’re  careful. In my opinion, it’s better to build resilience than avoid all adversity and hope for the best when something inevitably goes wrong. Think about exercise— it’s uncomfortable, but as you adapt to it, you become stronger and more able to handle the demands of regular life. Or a more controversial example— I’ve been reading How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan. He discusses the history of psychedellic drugs at length, and also recounts several experiences he undertakes with the aid of an experienced guide. He makes a good case for why he decided to do this (the potential for expansion and improvement of consiousness), and also why he did it the way he did, and not at parties as a younger person. And he recounts some profound shifts he experienced as a result of his approach and willingness to do something not considered “safe”.

Think about it. Think about whether what’s “safe” in theory is really “safe” for you, your goals, your life– or whether you’re limiting yourself without a good reason.

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