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The High Cost of Fear


We don’t talk much about the cost of fear, probably because it’s so expensive. When we are afraid, we don’t take essential risks. and we put too much of our time and money into assuring our security. That’s fool’s work. Life turns on the unexpected. No matter how hard we try, what comes is not going to be what we had in mind every time. We will never be able to anticipate all the things that can go very wrong.

Right now we’re spending billions to make us safe from terrorists. Nice idea, but really not achievable.There will be demented souls who do unthinkable things no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves.

Right now we’re spending horrendous amounts on health care in a system that admits half the medical procedures it orders are unnecessary. Many are insisted on by patients “just to be sure” or by doctors afraid of malpractice suits.

Right now, we’re requiring companies to warn us about obvious risks and to carry insurance in case we choose to do something stupid with their products anyway. Higher costs for false safety.

We do these things because we are afraid.

What’s saddest about this is that we live in a nation that’s long been proud of NOT being afraid. As Americans, we’ve stepped up to whatever came along since the country was founded over 200 years ago. Can we do that now? …..Not if we are afraid.

When we give in to fear, we’re hoping someone else can guess what bad thing is coming and protect us from it. We look to “the government” as some sort of bureaucratic version of Superman to assure our ongoing well-being. We expect somebody else to meet the challenge of keeping our world perfectly safe as we cower timidly.

It’s time to face one important fact: Life is tentativeWe don’t always get to live tomorrow. Or to live it as we’d hoped. Hiding under the bed today isn’t going to change that. It’s just going to make life today less.

There are things about aging and retirement and moving toward the end of life that are scary as hell. We spend a lot of money avoiding those, too. What would happen if we funneled all the resources we put into anti-aging products and services into making things we believe in happen? How about funding a playground with your Botox budget? Or setting up an after school program with the money you typically spend at the spa?

There’s an interesting benefit to this. Since beauty really does come from within, you get a double whammy when you give to those who really need it instead of spending it on trying to susain yourself as a geriatricversion of a teenager. You look younger because you’re involved. Someone has a better life because you cared. That will do far more for your complexion than any skin cream.

Plus it makes you own life more interesting.You start to see the bigger picture and find more ways to make a difference. Pretty soon, you’re so wound up in what you’re doing you have no idea whether you’re 18 or 80. And it really doesn’t matter because you are alive and standing tall.

CAN DO. It’s the attitude that made us a strong nation and can make us strong individually. “Yes, I can do that, and I will because I believe in it. ”Not “I’m scared. Protect me.” There’s no reason for us to live in this silly, self-imposed prison of fear. Or as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Think about what you’re afraid of. Getting old? Not having enough money? A dreaded disease? Can you feel how oppressive those thoughts are? Now tell yourself “I can deal with whatever comes.”Square your shoulders, lift your head, and say it again.

Stepping up to fear is essential to being fully alive. Eleanor Roosevelt said it well.“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”That’s the only way to confirm that you can. That’s what’s made us strong as a nation–the ability to step up to huge odds and get the job done anyway. Well.

We still have it in us. As a country and as individuals. Say “No” to fear. The odds won’t change but your outlook will.


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