“I stood close to a high-speed train that was racing by in a tunnel. The rush of adrenaline made my problems seem to fade.”—Leon.*
“Diving into water from dangerously high cliffs, I felt completely free for a few seconds. Usually I enjoyed it, but sometimes I was scared.”—Larissa.
Like Leon and Larissa, many young people get a thrill out of testing their limits—sometimes in very risky ways. Are you tempted to join in? If so, this article can help you.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Thrill-seeking can become an addiction. It might give you a short-term high but leave you craving greater excitement. Marco, who like Leon went into train tunnels, says: “It was a vicious circle. I was happy for a moment. But then I needed yet another thrill.”
Justin, who went high-speed skating by grabbing hold of passing cars, says: “The thrill I felt made me want to do it again. I wanted people to admire me, but I ended up in the hospital.”
Peer pressure can make you ignore common sense. A young man named Marvin says: “My friends pressured me to free-climb a tall building, saying: ‘Go on. You can do it.’ I felt very insecure. I was trembling as I pulled myself up the wall.” Larissa, mentioned earlier, says: “I did what everybody else did. I just went along with it.”
The Internet too is used by some to create a form of peer pressure by praising thrill-seekers and downplaying the risks. In fact, some dares posted on social media go viral, giving thrill-seekers recognition and attention.
For example, some popular videos depict parkour—an activity that involves traversing obstacles (such as walls, houses, and stairs) by running, climbing, or jumping rapidly and efficiently without any safety equipment. This could lead you to two mistaken conclusions: (1) The risks are minimal. (2) Everyone is doing it. The result: You may be tempted to try out activities that involve life-threatening risks.
There are better and safer ways to test your limits. “Physical training is beneficial for a little,” says the Bible. (1 Timothy 4:8) But the Scriptures also caution you to “live with soundness of mind.” (Titus 2:12) How can you do that?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Weigh the risks. The Bible says: “The shrewd person acts with knowledge, but the fool exposes his own foolishness.” (Proverbs 13:16) Before you consider engaging in a certain activity, get to know the risks involved. Ask yourself, ‘Does this activity amount to little more than a gamble with death or serious injury?’—Bible principle: Proverbs 14:15.
Choose friends who show respect for life. True friends will not encourage you to take risks or try to talk you into doing something you feel uncomfortable about. Larissa says: “Good and stable friends helped me to make better choices about activities I wanted to participate in. When my friends changed, so did my life.”—Bible principle: Proverbs 13:20.
Ask yourself, ‘Does this activity amount to little more than a gamble with death or serious injury?’
Enjoy your skills without risking your life. Part of growing up is “learning how to establish one’s own principles and boundaries,” says the book Adolescent Risk Behaviors. You can test your limits in a safe environment, using appropriate safety equipment and precautions.
Build genuine self-respect. People will respect you for how skillfully you master real-life challenges, not for what you dare to do for a thrill. Larissa says: “Cliff diving was just a start of a phase in my life that was full of self-destructive behavior. It would have been better if I had learned to say no.”
The bottom line: Rather than take needless risks by thrill-seeking, show good judgment with regard to your choice of recreation.—Bible principle: Proverbs 15:24.
Some names in this article have been changed.