In difficult times life seems to be full of risks and attempting to avoid threats is the only strategy anyone seems to follow. We fear worst-case scenarios, and almost automatically worst-case scenarios become a habitual way of looking at the world. No matter how much you try to avoid risks, however, and minimize threats, happiness is degraded by anxiety. If you grow old and look back on your life saying, “I was extremely careful,” that’s not the same as looking back and saying, “I created a happy life for myself.”
What’s needed is a path of happiness that avoids risks without fixating on them. It is possible to be free of anxiety on a path to fulfillment. The key lies in the decisions you make from day to day, both large and small. If your decision-making promotes happiness, you have found the right strategy, not only from day to day but for a lifetime.
At the place where decision-making is seriously studied - mostly at business schools and departments of government, risk and reward are the dominant factors. To reach a rational decision, both sides are calculated mathematically, and the result gives you the ratio of risk to reward (in simple terms, this is like calculating the odds of winning at a Las Vegas casino). This approach ignores the fact that all decisions are human. There's no machine that can be programmed to make only right decisions for us. History tells us that the greatest decisions always involved a combination of human genius, passion, determination, unforeseen consequences, and human foibles.
But what does this mean for you and the decisions you must make? It means that if you want to make good decisions, you should make them with full awareness of the human situation. If instead you try to reduce every big decision to a dry, rational computation, you will shut out the very things that go into a good decision.
These are the ingredients present in great leaders, and it's ironic that the human factor is almost completely ignored when case studies focus so much on risk versus reward, flow charts, statistical trends, market movement, etc. The obvious lesson is to welcome the human element. It can't be eliminated anyway, not in the real world. If you embrace your human side