Making decisions: what’s the worst that can happen?

Before jobs and responsibilities ruined summer, my cousins and I loved nothing more than spending our time between school years up at the cabin in Northern Minnesota- swimming all day, going on boat rides to drink stolen beer and getting high and watching The Breakfast Club at night. 

Our last summer of freedom, we were enjoying a sunny July day out on the boat waterskiing and tubing.  I’m sure a couple beers and a couple of bowls in, my cousin Sam suggested we commando– a time honored family tradition in which we pencil dived off the boat sans life jackets at full speed. 

“We’re pretty high, Sam,” someone very logically pointed out.

“Well, what’s the worst that could happen?” he asked.

“We could die”.

“At least we know,” he said, before jumping out of the moving boat.  We all followed. 

And we didn’t die.  We lived and it was super fun.  We assessed what’s the worst that could happen? and decided that we were OK with potentially dying at that very moment.  And it is how I’ve assessed a large majority of life choices ever since.  The thought process:

  • That doesn’t sound like a good idea.
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • I could __________ (die, get fired, get arrested, be poor, not have clean clothes).
  • Decide if I am OK with the worst case scenario (I’ve got a grip of life insurance, mom would bail me out, mom would bail me out, I’ll buy new ones)

And if I am comfortable with the worst possible outcome I can think of, I do it.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Either way, I do know this is not how grown-ups make life choices.  But I’m sticking to it.  I think.  At least for now. 

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