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Natural Risk Takers: Are They Born Positive?

Why can’t I be more daring?

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I have noticed that some people seem naturally more positive than others, and while some of it may be circumstantial, I think there’s more to it than that.  I have two daughters, and although I have raised them the same way, one has a tendency to dream big and overcome obstacles, and the other, although she dreams big, she shrinks back from trying unless she knows she’ll be perfect on her first attempt, it seems.  Unfortunately, the more easily discouraged one got that trait from me.  Why do we think that way?  To us, at times, the fear of failure exceeds the thrill of the prospect of succeeding.  It’s so frustrating when I know better (I certainly should at 45 years of age).

Are some people’s personalities just “wired that way?”  Research suggests, that, yes, they are.

New research shows a correlation between genetic variation and financial risk-taking. Scientists found that at the prospect of a making an investment, people who have a certain combination of anxiety-generating genes worry, and that worry leads to safer choices. Stanford psychology Associate Professor Brian Knutson studies how emotions influence decisions. In 2005, Knutson and Stanford Graduate School of Business student Camelia Kuhnen mapped out the brain regions that activated in the face of a risky decision. In 2009, Kuhnen, now an associate professor of finance at Northwestern University, linked financial risk-taking to two genes that regulate the “feel-good” neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine” (Beatrice Karnes, PaloAltoPatch.com).

I read some more concerning this research, and it suggested that people who are risk takers and those who aren’t still react the same way to the outcomes of their decisions.  They don’t necessarily show any different emotions or think differently than each other once their decisions are made; its all about the time leading up to the decision that sets them apart.  Some feel much more anxiety than others, and that explains a lot in the case of my counterpart daughter and myself.

We have all suffered negative things in life, and we all face choices of one kind or another every day.  I envy those like my more resilitent daughter, who seem to thrive in the face of challenges.  In my research of this topic, though, it was suggested that we do not have to be slaves to our personality types or our tendencies to be more cautious.  Since we know how our emotions affect our decision making process, we can help ourselves to be a bit more rational ahead of time.  I see myself growing in this area, little by little, and I’m thankful.  It definitely “takes all kinds to make the world go around.”

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