Saturday 18 January 2014

#55 Fear

Earlier today, I was watching a TED talk by the novelist Karen Thompson Walker, which happened to be about the emotion of fear. Now at first, making a blog post about this might appear to fly in the face of my new year's resolution to be more happy but I'm going to explain why I don't think this is completely the case.

It would be naive to think that a person is going to be happy all year just because they set a resolution to be so. There are bound to be threats and perceived threats that come along and give rise to fear, especially in a person that isn't used to maintaining a steady state of happiness. So to some extent, a person who wants to be happy is at some point going to have to consider how to deal better with fears.

It may be that there is research to point out that the frequency and intensity of fear experienced by a person is in part genetically predisposed. I would not argue with such a conclusion, were I in fact to read it somewhere. I would imagine that the research would also show though, some examples of instances where a person can overcome or work with or in spite of fear, or even some tips for how to deal better with it.

If I look back at situations and times where I've been fearful in my life, I sometimes find that I shut down somewhat. It's a bit like running a stripped down version of myself. I become more isolated and withdrawn and life feels like it matters less in that period of time. It's a bit like a psychological winter and life is just something that needs to be endured until the source of the fear is no longer present, even if it's a number of weeks or in some cases months and even if there's a good chance that in fact there is nothing to worry about.

The trouble with this type of behavior is that it would conflict with a resolution to be happy. A person can't be both scared and happy at the same time. It just doesn't work. A person might then start to look for answers and techniques or talk to friends. I think it's likely that they would assume their default fearful behavior to some extent but they might find some tools to make it more palatable and to give their experience character. A person might find that finding meaning in a situation is more important than finding happiness in it anyway. Then maybe in the long-term, that person would find some level of happiness out of the meaning that they had created. I have no idea though, I'm not an expert.

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