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The Opposite of Fear is Curiosity

Fear is the seed of regret Bob Mayer quoteI’m a scaredy-cat.

I don’t like to be put in situations where people can yell at me, where I can be in the wrong, where I can be blamed for failure. I don’t like to lie, to cheat or to up-sell. I’m a lousy salesman.

Quite simply, I’m too scared.

Everyone understands fear. If only we weren’t so afraid we’d sky jump, get married or sell our sofa and go live in a tiny monastery in Tibet where bald monks would teach us how to kill a man with our pinky toes.

If only we had the courage. If only we’d be fearless then we’d go, do, learn, live.

Sorry to burst your bubble, kiddo. Being fearless does diddly squat.

See, the opposite of fear isn’t courage. The opposite of fear is curiosity.

Courage is the ability to act even though we are afraid. It is a complement to fear. We fear the great white shark but our courage makes us able to disassemble our propane burner and create a mega-shark killing bomb. Go us, boo Jaws!

Except that without curiosity we’d never even get into the boat. We wouldn’t learn to sail, we wouldn’t care about the shark. We’d sit in our couch, munch our chips and stare at the telly. The one in the purple Tubby’s gut.

Too dumb to feel fear quoteCuriosity is what gets us going, what gives us the motivation to move. Then fear jumps up and starts yelling: “hey, buddy, it’s me, your safety net. Don’t go smelling that flower, there could be machine-gun wielding gnomes hiding inside it!”

Courage lets us smell the flower anyhow but it is curiosity that makes us want to. Courage is secondary. It’s like a nice monster truck that crushes the obstacles that fear puts in our way. But it’s still curiosity that gives us the gas to go.

Yeah, this post contains way too many similes. (By the way, a simile is when you put “like” or “as” in there: she’s like a tiger. Metaphor is when you just say that it is: she’s a tiger. Now you’ve learned something.)

But back to my point: the opposite of fear is curiosity because fear stops us but curiosity motivates us to go. Fearlessness isn’t the opposite of fear, it is the absence of fear. Fearlessness without curiosity is as useless as courage without curiosity. You can be so dumb that you’re fearless, just look at worms or those all those moose that just go plodding along without a care in the world right into a busy intersection. Splat.

Don’t see one of the making a space shuttle.

Fearlessness and courage are two sides of the same coin. One makes us overcome fear, the other makes fear never exist in the first place. Neither of them gets us going to cause the fear in the first place.

That’s what’s curiosity’s for.

Dreams of Futures Past Book Cover

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