The Fear Project
What Our Most Primal Emotion Taught Me About Survival, Success, Surfing … and Love
By Jaimal Yogis
Fear of the unknown can be either a call to action or a paralyzing notion. Yogis, author of Saltwater Buddha, writes about confronting fear through sports and action, combining honest memoir with thorough reporting on the things that scare us all. From public speaking to great white sharks, personal humiliation to snakes, it turns out that making friends with our fears is a useful practice for being more mindful and even more often in love. In fact, love is the perfect antidote to fear: sentimental emotions like love release a chemical called oxytocin. Yogis writes, “Now scientists have shown that oxytocin—sort of like love in chemical form—is what helps mammals be brave.”
Yogis’s love of surfing is the narrative tie that holds together reporting from experts and psychologists on how human beings either freeze from fear or lean into it. His conversations with extreme athletes add levity to some of his more personal experiences, mainly his fear of commitment and falling in love, which are also explored in the book. If it hadn’t been anchored by the idea of embracing fear as a spiritual practice, one that requires faith and surrender in order to overcome any adversity, The Fear Project might read as a handbook for surviving fear for surfers. Instead, even some of the more sappy sections toward the end of the book round out Yogis’s reporting on how readers can use what he learned embracing his deepest fears to dispel their own.