Category Archives: Questions

What fear can teach us about happiness

fearThe only thing we have to fear is fear itself. This phrase, made famous by FDR, speaks volumnes about the paralyzing nature of fear; but have you ever considered how powerfully fear motivates?

We all know that fear of something can stop you from doing things that might benefit you. A fear of flying might keep you from traveling. A fear of public speaking might keep you from impressing your boss. A fear of dancing might keep you from having a good time at the holiday party. But, fear can also motivate you like nothing else. For instance, a fear of illness might make you eat healthier foods. A fear of being fired might make you work harder. A fear of being embarrassed on stage might make you practice your backup vocal part over and over for six days straight until your family wants to rip your tongue out. Oh, wait. That was me.

Yes, fear can definitely motivate you by frightening you with potential consequences. But, what if you flipped that tactic on it’s head? What if you could motivate yourself by thinking about the positive benefits of overcoming a fear?

With the spooky, scary Halloween holiday upon us; I’d like to invite you to do something that scares you. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something that makes you uncomfortable, something that makes you push just a little bit past the boundaries of your “comfort zone.” You may be surprised at what you can accomplish if you set your fear aside for a minute. And, if you do succeed, you’ll reap the benefits of new experience, expanded horizons, and increased confidence. Even if you fail, you can still say you tried. In truth, the act of trying is more than half the battle when it comes to conquering fears. You may not succeed the first time out of the gate, but it will be that much easier to go for it a second, third, or fourth time.

Each time you conquer a fear, your capacity for happiness grows. Happiness is often a by-product of feeling in control and accomplished. When you eliminate fears, you increase your ability to control your world and to accomplish whatever task is at hand. Think how wonderful it would be, for instance, if you no longer had to agonize over every little presentation you had to give. Or, what if you didn’t have to spend time worrying about looking silly in front of your child’s Kindergarten class (and the other moms), but could just go in there and have a great time?

Fear has it’s uses, but I prefer to focus on the positive ones.

How do you use fear? Do you motivate yourself with the threat of punishment, or the promise of a positive benefit? Which works best for you?

Photo Credit: Luna DiRimmel

What’s at the root of YOUR good mood?

questionmarkI’m taking a step back this morning to ask a simple question: What goes into a good mood?

There are many ways to trigger a good mood – long walks in the woods, dinner with friends, uplifting movies, surprise kindnesses, and so on – but what’s at the root of a good mood? What is it about these activities that makes you feel happy? What basic, human need is satisfied by watching a sunset or getting a pat on the back from your boss that sends your endorphins – and your good mood – soaring?

I have my own theories, of course, but I’m more interested in what you think.

Image Credit: ultraBobban