The reason none of us like to take risks is because by doing that we may find that we know less than we do. In other words, we may experience what it means to be wrong (or mistaken). And it's important to virtually everyone to know that we are right. About everything. To challenge this is to shake the ground under our feet, or worse, the foundations of our very lives.
It's interesting then to look at the attraction some (probably most of us) have to gambling. While we might be risk averse in general, when the opportunity to gamble presents itself, some people jump in with both feet. I can think of one particular individual who never married, who appears not to have taken too many chances romantically (or otherwise) and who eventually got so addicted to gambling, she would literally wait at an ATM machine for her paycheque and then go straight to the casino and blow whatever she had almost immediately.
Today it is even easier to gamble in the comfort of one's own home. Take www.partycasino.com. All you need is a credit card, an internet connection and off you go. But it seems to me, the attraction to gambling hides a natural element in risk-taking that many of us repress. Repression causes perversion, and gambling with money is a perverse way of satisfying that 'adventurous spirit'.
The odd thing is that when we take risks (healthy risks), perhaps challenging ourselves to meet new people, or losing weight, or moving to a new neighborhood, we also invite opportunities for growth. Anthony Robbins describes happiness as continuous improvement. In other words, we're happy when we're growing. But you can't grow if you don't take risks. Or if you're afraid of making mistakes.
It's an odd adjunct in society today, as Kathryn Schultz notes in 'Being Wrong - Adventures in the Margin of Error', that we "annoint the ultraconfident leaders" yet we deplore the hesitant, cautious leader and tend to label them flip floppers. In other words, society - by and large - feel it better to be bold and wrong, than less certain and right.
"If we assume that people who are wrong are ignorant, or idiotic, or evil - well, small wonder that we prefer not to confront the possibility of error in ourselves," Schultz writes. So, to address this - when we stop judging others or comparing ourselves, we free ourselves to make mistakes (and to learn and to grow). If not, head to the nearest casino.