Fear. We've all faced it. We've all experienced its crippling power. We've all insulated ourselves from the risk of what we fear - betting against our health, the chance occurrence of an automobile accident, disability and long term care needs all the while failing to invest in opportunities that may yield a return. We throw potential opportunity out the window in order to secure the things we identify with, even when our identity is far less than its potential. We are willing to pay premiums to hedge our fear of loss - "the inevitable", but are less willing to bet on the opportunity to win (invest in the market, ourselves, education, etc..). Our culture has ingrained a sense of imminent loss rather than likely win, despite the fact that during the 20th century the stock market returned an average of 10.4% a year*, we understand the absolutely necessity of continued growth and change, and the degradation of stagnation.
So, it's understandable. In light of our learned tendency to lean away from potential gain and toward hedging against "imminent loss", we have become a culture of second guessers, we find paralysis through analysis, and we allow ourselves to look back at retirement wondering what might have been. We have allowed ourselves the mediocre life where "good enough" is just that. We allow our contentedness to overwhelm our potential.
But, it's a choice. And, so is the alternative. Les Brown eloquently reminds us of this in the clip below.