There are lots of things in this modern world that can get our heart racing. Flying through turbulence. Close calls while driving. Stories about shootings on the street.
However, the things that are likely to get us seem tame by comparison. They don’t generally elicit the same visceral, fight-or-flight reaction that we often associate with “risk taking”.
The leading cause of death in New Zealand is heart disease. (That is, unless you subscribe to the idea that personal decisions are the leading cause of death…)
For some of us, there are things that we’re actively doing that are increasing our risk to heart disease (and other chronic health issues). Top of the list is smoking. This is followed by excessive drinking.
Personally, I wouldn’t call smoking or excessive drinking especially “swashbuckling”.
But more generally, the “risks” we take aren’t actually associated with action. More than anything, they’re associated with inaction.
- Being physically inactive. How would have thought that the most risky thing you’re doing is spending your evenings on the couch in front of the television?
- Not getting your doctor to check out your heart health. Modern medicine has some powerful preventative interventions that can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. The Heart Foundation of New Zealand suggests that, depending on your personal characteristics, it might be worth speaking with a doctor as early as the age of 35.
- Not taking the time to know the warning signs of a heart attack, cardiac arrest, or stroke. In case it happens to you or a loved one.
To a large degree, we’re all risk takers. We don’t laugh in the face of the biggest risks that face us, because they seem so innocuous and creep up on us over time. But a risk is a risk, swashbuckling or not.