Fear gets a bad rap in our modern culture, which eschews any type of negative emotion as a discomfort to be avoided whenever possible. “NO FEAR!!!” the bumper stickers say, nevermind the fact that courage in the face of no fear isn’t really courage at all. So, the question is: What scares you?
Fear is an extremely useful emotion, one that is often produced by our subconscious minds before our logical brain kicks in that something is amiss. Just like other “negative” emotions that people avoid like sadness or anger, fear can be a very important teacher – and in fact, feeling scared can motivate you in an extremely powerful way.
What scares you? Most humans fall into two types, and you’re most likely either a thrill seeker or somewhat risk-averse. Do you love scary movies and roller coasters? Or would you be just fine never indulging in these exciting experiences ever again?
If you’re a thrill seeker, then you are already probably planning your next trip or outdoor adventure – but you need some stimulation in the meantime to tide you over. If you’re the type that avoids fearful situations, you can easily spice up your life with an injection of adrenaline. Nothing makes you feel more alive than the possibility you might die; try a few of these summer stimulations and wake up your brain and your life with a spine-tingling experience of fear.
1. Head to an amusement park. There’s no shortage of thrills, chills and screams to be had at a major theme park or water park. Even better? Leave the kids at home so you can truly concentrate on the rides and experiences you want to. Don’t leave the park until you’ve experienced the terror of certain death on a wild-flying ride.
2. Try your jokes at an open mic night. Humans fear public speaking more than death itself – and stand-up comedy raises the bar on performance even higher. Find a local open mic night, prepare a few pages of jokes and try your luck on stage – butterflies in your stomach are guaranteed. Can’t do it? Just attending a comedy show with your friends (and sitting in the front row so they can skewer you with jokes) can be just as exciting as well.
3. Get high. Even if you’re not afraid of heights like many people, climbing up to a tall vantage point puts a thrill in your soul. Whether it’s a restaurant lounge at the top of a skyscraper, a cliff overlooking the city lights or a mountainside in the middle of nowhere, find the highest spot around and go there. Survey your kingdom, stimulate your senses and enjoy the feeling of being on top of the world.
4. Go out and eat alone. For some people, dining out alone is a scary exercise best avoided if at all possible. Eating by yourself exposing the deep-seated human fear – not just of being alone, but of being along and everyone knowing that you are alone. Put on your big girl panties and go out for a nice dinner by yourself. Don’t bring a book, and for the love of technology don’t spend your meal tapping on your phone or reading pointless status updates. Savor every moment, bite and sip. Bonus points for ordering a dish you’ve never tried before!
5. Go sailing. We fear deep water for the unknown element, and whether you’re hitting the lake, the river or the ocean, a sailing trip offers an exceptional feeling of freedom. Make it easy and take an arranged dinner cruise, or sign up for sailing lessons and learn how to handle your very own boat.
6. Visit the zoo. For some reason, reptiles, insects, spiders and other creepy-crawly creatures stimulate the senses in a very primal way, especially if you’re female. You wouldn’t want them on your kitchen floor, but visiting the bugs and reptiles in a zoo can give you the same rush as discovering a lizard in your shower.
7. Get lost in a strange neighborhood. The mystery and subsequent rush of not knowing where the hell you are is an experience going extinct, thanks to the GPS systems found on nearly every smartphone. Identify a safe, local neighborhood that you’ve always wanted to explore, and go wander around by yourself or with a friend. Discover a café you didn’t read about on Yelp, a park that no one told you about, and refuse to use your GPS unless you absolutely cannot find your way out again.
For further reading: The Gift of Fear by Gaven de Becker