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Worth the Risk: How to Microdose Bravery to Grow Resilience, Connect More, and Offer Yourself to the World (Hardcover)
Discover the rewards of strategic risk-taking—an award-winning behavioral scientist shares a practical guide on using small, intentional acts of courage to build resilience, confidence, and connection.
We’re bombarded by messages about how dangerous the world is—from both real and fake news. Yet when we hunker down and try to live in a bubble of safety, we can cut ourselves off from the richness and joy life has to offer. In Worth the Risk, Dr. Kristen Lee shows us that by “microdosing” small acts of bravery and connection, we can regain the self-confidence and resilience we need to live full and meaningful lives. “We are hardwired for risk-taking,” she says. “As we become more comfortable with the uncomfortable, our nervous system changes to support us in experiencing a bold, adventurous, colorful life.”
In each chapter of Worth the Risk, Lee provides a solid dose of brain science combined with practical actions to build confidence and sustain yourself through challenges. With a blend of stories, composite sketches, science, ancient wisdom, behavioral science, and practical exercises, you’ll explore:
• What is courage? Debunking the myths and discovering the power of everyday acts of bravery
• Why feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you a “snowflake”
• Tools for understanding and regulating your emotions, anxieties, and habits of avoidance
• Healing practices and guidance to increase your resilience to trauma, acute stress, and PTSD
• Insights and strategies for navigating the unique challenges of our polarized, media-saturated culture
• How to own your “Personal Legend” and become an active liberator—for yourself and others
Risks are a part of life—and “playing it safe” can end up diminishing the very qualities that allow us to adapt, create, and serve our purpose in life. Worth the Risk guides you through a powerful approach to taking small, values-aligned chances that increase your ability to thrive. “You are not your trauma, labels, fears, or raw emotions,” Lee writes. “You are wired for resilience. Your human spirit is indomitable.”
About the Author
Kristen Lee, EdD, LICSW, is an award-winning behavioral science and leadership professor, clinician, researcher, activist, comedian, author of Reset and Mentalligence, and host of Crackin’ Up: Where Therapy Meets Comedy. She has over two decades of clinical experience in mental health and thirteen years of teaching and leadership roles in higher education, focusing on underserved populations. She leads the Behavior Science program at Northeastern University.
For more, visit kristenlee.com.
“Kris Lee’s fusion of neuroscience and humanity is compelling and timely. Worth the Risk is a bold blend of science, story, humor, and wisdom that helps us reimagine fear and embody courage, creativity, and positive contribution. I love the idea of microdosing bravery! A must-read for anyone wanting to shine brighter without burning out.” —Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD, author of Transcend and host of The Psychology Podcast
“What’s scarce in the world isn’t smart people or people with good ideas, but brave people willing to show up and do the work of cocreating a better world. This wonderful, entertaining, and ridiculously practical book shows how becoming more brave can be a fun, imminently doable adventure, not a road to terror or burnout. Read it, microdose bravery, and start finishing the bridge to your ‘what is’ life.” —Charlie Gilkey, author of Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done
“We live in a very fearful time and rates of depression and anxiety are on the rise. That is why I was so pleased to see this guide to everyday bravery published. In Worth the Risk, Dr. Lee makes the case that bravery needs to be a practice. Not over-the-top heroism, but rather leaning into risk on a daily basis, or microdosing bravery. I think this book and practice could be useful for anyone who feels stuck or adrift in their life.” —W. Keith Campbell, PhD, author of The New Science of Narcissism
“This compelling new book should be a must-read for any person who wants to both thrive and be happy. Worth the Risk is full of real-life stories of common people who faced adversities that came in different sizes and shapes, for which Lee has recommended the most appropriate ways of coping successfully. Every chapter is like a therapy session that teaches in elegant but easily understandable language several logical but pragmatic strategies to increase your resilience, and then tells the reader how to practice them every day. Once you start reading the book, you can’t put it down. And you will want to go back to it again and again, whenever you feel stressed out and need help. Thank you, Professor Lee, for providing this wonderful guide to a happy life for people from all walks of life and, in the process, helping the whole society become more resilient, compassionate, and rewarding.” —Dilip V. Jeste, MD, author of Wiser and senior associate dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care, University of California, San Diego
“Worth the Risk is the antidote we need to move past our fears and find our inner courage, so we can show up as our truest selves. With great candor, spirit, and expertise, Kristen Lee shows us that small acts of courage aren’t small at all. A must read for anyone willing to get more comfortable with the uncomfortable and live with the aliveness the world needs to be better and brighter.” —Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Wake Up to the Joy of You
“Worth the Risk is a brilliant fusion of science and story that reminds us we are never alone, that courage is always within reach. Dr. Kris’s candor and thought leadership is the reminder we need each day that it’s okay not to be okay, and that healing happens through candor and conscious community. A beautiful compilation of wisdom and strategy to help eradicate mental health stigma and discrimination and to help us get to a better place, together.” —Alison Malmon, founder and director of Active Minds
“Dr. Kris Lee has written a truly remarkable book about bravery, connections, and resilience. While these themes have always been of importance, they have assumed even greater urgency in a world in which the ramifications of COVID-19 have intensified anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and loneliness. Kris not only shares with the reader thoughts about the significance of courage and resilience, but very importantly, she describes realistic ‘microdoses’ we can initiate to realize our value-driven dreams and goals. With notable eloquence, she reminds us of the importance of our connections with others and of living a more purposeful, honest life. Her insights and strategies are conveyed in a caring, compassionate way—never lecturing, always empathic, with a healthy mixture of humor as well. She emphasizes that while attempting changes in our lives may be difficult, they are possible. What makes her message even more hopeful and impactful is the openness in which she courageously describes her personal challenges with mental health issues and what helped her to be more honest with herself and others. I am certain that this very impressive book will serve as a major resource for many, to be read and reread in our journey through life.” —Robert Brooks, PhD, part-time faculty, Harvard Medical School, and coauthor of The Power of Resilience
“Worth the Risk, by Dr. Kris Lee, stands out from the pack. While there are other books in the genre advocating bravery, risk-taking, authenticity, and so on, Dr. Kris’s writing distinguishes itself, sparkling with originality. For example, I love her notions of ‘microdosing bravery,’ ‘architecting self-care,’ ‘burning your disguise,’ and ‘choosing solidarity over stigma,’ among others. Her authorial voice reinforces her message. She doesn’t minimize the challenges of moving toward authenticity and connection. But she does inspire the reader to chance becoming more open by taking baby steps. And she exemplifies the process by sharing her own vulnerabilities. I especially appreciate her realistic acknowledgement of the challenges encountered on the journey. She writes, ‘Small acts of courage over time can help us build the resilience we need to navigate interpersonal and systemic traumas including global pandemics, conflict, climate change, economic crises, hatred, polarization, violence, illness, death, and combating racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and xenophobia.’ Her own courage and sense of urgency is certain to inspire, comfort, and motivate her readers.” —David Van Nuys, PhD, host of the Shrink Rap Radio podcast
“I have one rule for my therapists: they must be vastly smarter than me and, at the same time, damn funny. Dr. Kris is this kind of therapist. Her clever insights and deep empathy, wrapped in an easily-digested prescription for bravery, make this book one that should leap to the top of your bedside pile. Her book is the gateway drug to building your courage. She lives as she writes: authentically. Dr. Kris cuts through the bullshit of self-help with a detailed How-To list for creating a courageous life filled with thrilling, creative risk-taking. From looking in to speaking out, she shows us that we can microdose courage in an effort to make a beeline toward a life of (possibly messy but meaningful) energy, passion, and purpose.” —Katie Goodman, award-winning comedian and author of Improvisation for the Spirit
“What a gift to find the surprising space that opens up with laughter, the clarity that arises from authenticity, and the confidence that comes from microdosing bravery. In Worth the Risk, behavioral scientist Kristen Lee gives us a roadmap to all three—laughter, authenticity, and bravery. This is both a delightfully down-to-earth and a bigger-than-the-sky book. Read it if you want to be who you already are—and more.” —Megan McDonough, award-winning author of Infinity in a Box
“Dr. Kris shines her light on topics that are often hidden from us. Worth the Risk is witty, honest, and grounded in science. Her signature blend of quirky humor and sage wisdom is like a therapy session, without the co-payment! If you’re ready to awaken to the truth of your possibility to change yourself and the world, Worth the Risk is well worth the read.” —Carol Pelletier Radford, bestselling author of Teaching with Light
“Densely researched, diversely approached, and richly educational, Worth the Risk unpacks human resilience and dismantles fear with an expert hand. Complete with integrative reflection work, an abundance of resources, and personalized levity to boot, Dr. Kris leaves readers well equipped to microdose bravery, nourish courage, and discern risks worth taking—strategically. Tackling weighty subjects with accessible psychological tools, this singular instruction-manual-meets-call-to-action is bound for collective impact. Worth the Risk is worth its weight in GOLD.” —Shelby Elsbree, founder of Artists Becoming
“Worth the Risk is a timely and timeless masterpiece that redefines bravery in a much-needed way and encourages us to ‘microdose’ the kinds of risks that nourish our lives and the lives of those around us. Combining personal vignettes and compelling, inspirational stories of courage, as well as integrating science, research, reflective questions, and action steps, Dr. Kris shows us how to take agency over that which we can control to craft a valued and meaningful life. Through her own authentic voice and her skill as a seasoned and compassionate clinician, Dr. Kris empowers her readers to move past fears and obstacles of all kinds to align with their truest values and embrace an authenticity that leads to deep well-being, connection, and healing.” —Beth Kurland, PhD, author of Dancing on the Tightrope
“Worth the Risk is an incredible tapestry of insight and strategies that help us overcome fear and live life with zest. This is a book with timeless benefit and immense wisdom that teaches us how to microdose courage in a realistic and meaningful way so we can bring our best selves forward every day.” —Ying Cao, MD, MEng, McClean Hospital psychiatrist in charge and Harvard Medical School instructor in psychiatry
“If the pandemic has left you paralyzed, isolated, or confused, this book is the blueprint to help you get back in the game. To those who read the book, let me be the first to say, ‘Welcome back. We missed you.’”—Kathleen Mackenzie, EdD, LICSW, award-winning professor and director of Clinical Services, New Bedford schools
“In Worth the Risk, Dr. Kris provides a roadmap to learn how to take risks, create new patterns, and bravely make steps to discover new individual horizons. The personalized sessions are for anyone who wants to live a more adventurous, purposeful life.” —Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, EdD, author of Whose Judgment Counts?