The Fear Project A new book exploring life's most primal emotion

You’re Bigger Than That Box
Share What’s Coming Through
Let It Shine
Putting The Fear Project Into Action
The Most Fearless Surfer
You’re Bigger Than That Box
You’re Bigger Than That Box

I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve identified with over the years: skater, surfer, artist, science geek, vegetarian, bacon-lover, child, adult, spiritual, agnostic, religious, drinker, straight edge, writer, musician, snowboarder, math lover, math phobic, free-bird, homebody, party animal, hermit. The list goes on forever. The funny thing is that I’ve often called renouncing a […]

Share What’s Coming Through
Share What’s Coming Through

Yesterday I went on a long rant about how I’ve been talking a big game about facing our fears. Then I admitted that I haven’t been facing my biggest fear — sharing the art that is most dear to me. I put out a very short poem and I appreciated the outpouring of support. It […]

Let It Shine
Let It Shine

Alright folks: For the last six months I’ve been on my high horse preaching all this fearlessness to sell books. I’ve been talking a big game about how we should all be approaching our fears in baby steps. Public speaking, being alone, being together, big waves, whatever your shadows may be. In the meantime — […]

Putting The Fear Project Into Action
Putting The Fear Project Into Action

This is a letter I got from local surfer and designer, Tracey Thompson, about putting The Fear Project into action. I normally don’t share them but I think it’s a great story and I love her insight of not needing to “hold myself to some imaginary standard of badassery.” Thanks Tracey! Love this photo of […]

The Most Fearless Surfer
The Most Fearless Surfer

(Photo By Heather Kessinger) I love the way stories spread in this era. A couple of years ago, I flew to Bangladesh and reported a story for AFAR Magazine about a homeless girl, Nassima Atker, who’d miraculously become one of the country’s best surfers. (Yes, there is surfing in Bangladesh.) Despite having to beg for […]

Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Limit Your Genius
Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Limit Your Genius

Having been raised by a therapist mom whose self-help/psychology books could fill a small library –wanting, I suppose, to continue my teenage rebellion – I promised myself I would never venture into “the motivational writer” role. But screw it. I’m no longer a teenager and my mom is almost always right. Cue up the Deep […]

Faith for the Faithless
Faith for the Faithless

“The one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8 Raised by a Jewish mom and a Catholic dad who both became Buddhists, […]

The Fear Project Hawaii
The Fear Project Hawaii

Honolulu – Award winning journalist and surfer Jaimal Yogis is coming to the Hawaiian islands on the tour for his new hit surf / neuroscience book, The Fear Project. Saturday, March 2 at 1 PM, Yogis will give a talk on the science of fear and sign books at the Barnes and Noble in Honolulu’s Ala Moana Mall. The following Friday, March 8, he’ll be […]

The Fear Project on Huffington Post Live
The Fear Project on Huffington Post Live

Snakes, commitmentphobia, exposure therapy, surfing. We covered a lot of ground in the Huffpo Live interview. I had a blast. Here are the live events in New York and New Jersey Feb 9 and 10. Manhattan, New York Saturday, February, 9, 3 PM I will be presenting with world renowned Harvard neuroscientist, Srini Pillay Rubin […]

The Fear Project East Coast Tour
The Fear Project East Coast Tour

So I’ve now answered questions about a man’s fear of strawberry ice cream at Book Passage San Francisco, swam down a 39-degree river in Portland to Powell’s Books, run 10 miles to a signing at Elliot Bay in Seattle, and taken questions on the radio about everything from fear of looking bad at the gym […]

Angels on Willamette
Angels on Willamette

Yesterday I was visited by angels. I really believe that. There I was in Portland planning to swim down the Willamette River, which was nearly frozen, to Powell’s Books. Partly, it was a publicity stunt. Partly I just love adventures. Anyway, I was nervous about the swim because of the cold (39 F) and the […]

Let’s Run Through Fear
Let’s Run Through Fear

Hello from the beautiful (chilly) Northwest! I’m up here for some Fear Project events at Powell’s in Portland (Sunday, 7:30 PM) and Elliot Bay Book Co. in Seattle (Monday, 7 PM). It’s already a blast. I’m spending the day running around to TV and radio interviews while sampling Portland’s best coffee (listen for me talking […]

Love Over Fear: A Biological Truth
Love Over Fear: A Biological Truth

“Writer’s block sucks,” my friend Jerusha, a novelist, told me while we drank coffee at Four Barrel, one of San Francisco’s coffee houses that makes you feel out of touch for not having a beard and tight cut offs. “I just feel paralyzed.” Having suffered writer’s block myself, I nodded, guzzled down my double latte, […]

Thank You!
Thank You!

Yesterday was one of the most amazing days of my life. Watching the sunset behind our beautiful city as Jamie Patrick and I swam across the bay — elephant seals gliding beneath, helicopters above — goes beyond words. Thank you so much to Jamie for putting together this memento of the swim. Thank you to […]

Fear Project Launch Day Giveaway
Fear Project Launch Day Giveaway

After 3 years of obsessing about how humans can master our fears, I’m so ecstatic to announce that today is launch day for The Fear Project. I’m also nervous. Like every writer, I want the book to do well. And as I learned reporting this book, the best way to make your greatest fears work […]

Bend Not Break in 2013
Bend Not Break in 2013

Recent brain-imagery research has shown that when we read or watch a compelling story, our brains go through a similar process to the characters in that tale.  That’s part of why I decided to put my own adventures into The Fear Project, and it’s also why I highly recommend the new memoir, Bend Not Break: […]

JT Holmes: Staying Calm in Extremes
JT Holmes: Staying Calm in Extremes

In the first part of my interview with JT Holmes — one of the most impressive extreme skiers and BASE jumpers on earth, not to mention an all around smart, nice guy — he talked about his scariest moment in skiing, how he transforms fear to focus, and how his sport helped him with ADHD. […]

A Night Swim for THE FEAR PROJECT
A Night Swim for THE FEAR PROJECT

Contact: Aly Mostel Tel: 212.808.1684; aly.mostel@rodale.com San Francisco — Swimming in the chilly San Francisco Bay may not be the way most people would choose to arrive at their first book signing, especially in the dead of winter, and especially at night. But that’s exactly what San Francisco journalist and surfer Jaimal Yogis will do […]

How to Beat Fear: Do your Homework
How to Beat Fear: Do your Homework

Jonathan Goodwin, a British escape artist with a shiny bald head and a 007 air, has, over the course of his career: buried himself alive, bound himself in locks and chains under ice-cold water, hung himself on stage, covered his body in 200,000 bees, swum with sharks, and had a car park on top of […]

Flea’s Tips: When you get Beaten, Go Back for More
Flea’s Tips: When you get Beaten, Go Back for More

Photo: Frank Quirarte While reporting The Fear Project book, I realized quickly that I couldn’t just interview scientists who study fear in the brain and body. I had to get to the people who experience fear in its most raw and physical forms — the experiential experts. Not all my reporting ended up going into […]

Inspiration
Inspiration

The science of fear is complex, but often the best remedies are the simplest. Fear Project writer Leslie Kerby has assembled some powerful fear busting quotes. Use them wisely. Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow. – Mary Anne […]

To Face A Fear: Life of Pi
To Face A Fear: Life of Pi

This post is by Leslie Kerby, a new writer at The Fear Project. One of my biggest, most tangible fears has always been to go to the movies…by myself.  Tonight, I am going to tackle this fear by going to see Life of Pi, solo. The film fits- it’s about a boy who loses everything- […]

Into the great Unknown
Into the great Unknown

I’m honored today to introduce a very talented writer you’ll be hearing from a lot more on The Fear Project, Leslie Kerby. I met Leslie a few years ago when she interviewed me for her thesis. I was immediately struck by how confident and ambitious she was — not to mention what a talented writer. […]

Reclaiming Halloween
Reclaiming Halloween

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I remember loving the day as a three-year-old (pro baseball player) and a four-year-old (pro football player). But at five, tragedy struck. The previous years had been so truly awesome, I could hardly contain my excitement that mom was making me a robot costume out of shoe boxes […]

Fear — the ultimate motivator
Fear — the ultimate motivator

One of the stars of The Fear project book is adventure swimmer, Jamie Patrick, a man who continually inspires me to go into my greatest fears and see what’s on the other side. Below, he writes about his scariest time in life and how he dug himself out. To read more about Jamie’s incredible adventures […]

Never Waste a Good Crisis
Never Waste a Good Crisis

Whenever there’s a hurricane Katrina, a 2008 market crash, or a Deepwater Horizon oil spill, pundits hammer the point that we can’t waste this tragedy. We have to use our collective fear, anger, and hope as motivation to prevent such and such disaster from ever happening again. Social Security was borne of the Great Depression, […]

Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear

(Mark Mathews Self Portrait) In The Fear Project, I profile a handful of the most of the most accomplished action adventure athletes alive: skydivers, cave-divers, big-wave surfers, skiers, and a UFC fighters. I wanted to know the science behind what made these people tick, but I couldn’t help getting enthralled in their personal stories. One […]

Hey Shame and Death — “Go F&#@ Yourself”
Hey Shame and Death — “Go F&#@ Yourself”

Dr. Arnie Kozak has an aphorism for you that you probably won’t hear from your average psychotherapist: “Freedom from fear is nothing more than telling shame and death to go fuck themselves.” A psychologist, author, mindfulness teacher, and snowboarder, Dr. Kozak has been a great influence on my work, and I was honored to get […]

Chasing Mavericks
Chasing Mavericks

One of the central themes in The Fear Project book is how human beings build up the courage to surf Mavericks, one of the biggest, deadliest, most bone-crushing waves on the planet. It’s not just about how legendary big-wave surfers like Flea, Jeff Clark, and Doc Renneker train, but what’s going on in their brains […]

Fear less, Love More: An Interview with MeiMei Fox
Fear less, Love More: An Interview with MeiMei Fox

MeiMei Fox is one of the most dynamic human beings I’ve ever encountered. She’s one of those people who can work a 12-hour day, go home to meditate and do yoga, then party all night, and get up and do it again the next day. After studying psychology at Stanford, MeiMei became a depth psychotherapy-trained […]

The Award for Best Political Fear-Monger Goes to
The Award for Best Political Fear-Monger Goes to

If you think Romney and Obama are getting dirty, check out what Johnson was up to in the 1964 race against Goldwater. In case you didn’t catch it, Johnson says in the ad: “These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. […]

Big Wave Surfing: A Triumph of the Modern Brain
Big Wave Surfing: A Triumph of the Modern Brain

It was an honor to have my article about Mavericks and the neurobiology of fear and courage published in last month’s issue of Surfer Magazine. There will be much more to come on this topic. Here’s the intro to the article. A few winters ago, I got all amped on surfing Mavericks. I’d never been […]

Swimming Through Fear
Swimming Through Fear

On Friday, August 31, at 6 a.m., ultra swimmer Jamie Patrick will begin his attempt to become the first human to ever swim around the perimeter of Lake Tahoe. Though he’ll be wearing a wetsuit, the 68-mile swim will be one of the longest nonstop swims in history. You can watch it live here, but […]

Why We Love Fear (And Game of Thrones)
Why We Love Fear (And Game of Thrones)

One of the best parts of the HBO series Game of Thrones is how well the writing captures fear’s many facets. In this scene, Brandon Stark, son of Ned Stark, is asking Old Nan for a scary story, prompting ominous talk of their world’s dreadful long winters. “Oh, my sweet summer child,” says Old Nan, […]

The Smell of Fear May Help Us Focus
The Smell of Fear May Help Us Focus

It’s well known that many animals can sense fear through smell, humans included. In this fascinating study, Dr. Denise Chen and colleagues took sweat samples from the underarms of men and women who had just watched a scary movie or a benign documentary. They then asked a different sample of undergraduates to smell the sweaty […]

Fear Tactics Are Old Skool
Fear Tactics Are Old Skool

Vegan terrorists? Yep, they’re out there, one of the FBI’s top domestic terrorism priorities. I just spent a couple months reporting on their primary umbrella organization, the Animal Liberation Front, after the organization anonymously claimed responsibility for bombing California’s largest beef producer, Harris Ranch. (Read the San Francisco Magazine story here.) One of the most […]

Olympic Stress. How Do Athletes Deal?
Olympic Stress. How Do Athletes Deal?

One shot. That’s what many of these Olympic athletes will get. The stress is nearly unimaginable. How do they deal? I recently caught up with Jamie Nieto, one of the Team USA Olympic high jumpers, who will be competing in the high jump qualifier in just a few hours. Nieto, who is 35 and likely […]

Afraid of New Foods? Blame Your Ancestors.
Afraid of New Foods? Blame Your Ancestors.

I ate pig cheeks last night. We’d just arrived in the small, medieval town of Evora, renowned for its hearty cuisine and wines. As one who leans vegetarian, pig cheeks were the last thing I was craving. But sticking to my Portugal road trip policy of openness and zero expectations – and with our waiter […]

How Alcohol Affects Anxiety and Fear
How Alcohol Affects Anxiety and Fear

Being in Porto, home of that famous mix of brandy and fermented grapes, I thought I would do a short post on the affects of alcohol on fear. It’s well known that having a drink or two takes the edge off, reducing stress, but psychologists at the University of Wisconsin recently showed alcohol doesn’t affect […]

The Art of Expecting Nothing
The Art of Expecting Nothing

Right now I’m traveling through Portugal with my wife, Amy, and our six-month-old son. It’s our first time to Portugal and an experiment for me. While I couldn’t help dreaming of a wonderful trip while we eagerly planned where to stay, I also made a point to read almost nothing about Portugal before coming. The […]

Fear Not the Dreaded Pick Up Grasshopper
Fear Not the Dreaded Pick Up Grasshopper

Spiders. Snakes. Heights. These are the common fears people list in polls. But a lot of us would rather confront any of these three terrors than have to ask a random beautiful girl or guy on a date. Our fear of rejection is so overblown, many evolutionary psychologists say, because the tribe was such an […]

The Magic of Fearlessness
The Magic of Fearlessness

While researching my upcoming book, The Fear Project, a lot of people have asked me why I chose fear. My answer never seems to come out right so I thought I would answer in a different way. This is a chapter from my memoir, Saltwater Buddha, called Wizards and Water Walking, a story about overcoming […]

Reasons to Ignore Your Inner Fear Factory
Reasons to Ignore Your Inner Fear Factory

“Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win By fearing to attempt.” — William Shakespeare The other day I was having coffee with my friend Heather, who is in one of the most fearless careers: documentary film. I know it’s not working on an aircraft carrier, but documentaries rarely […]

Stuck in Mental Quicksand? Change the Subject.
Stuck in Mental Quicksand? Change the Subject.

There you are: a view of the waves, bottle of wine just corked. The week is finally over. You’re taking in the light dancing on the water when… “What’s that honey?” you say. “God, do you ever listen to me?” your girlfriend says, clanking her fork on her plate a bit too hard. Apparently, you […]

The Huge Nothing That We Fear
The Huge Nothing That We Fear

I recently traveled to Iceland on a surf trip and found myself in the middle of a brutal wind storm. Brought to mind one of my favorite fear-related poems by Seamus Heaney, Storm on an Island, and the huge nothing that we fear STORM ON THE ISLAND We are prepared: we build our houses squat, […]

Game of Thrones and True Bravery
Game of Thrones and True Bravery

Like much of the planet right now, I’m obsessed with HBO’s fantasy series, Game of Thrones. I think about it pretty much every waking minute, but there was a moment in last Sunday’s episode that has really stuck with me. It even puts a lump in my throat. Robb Stark, the honorable King of the […]

The Neurobiology of Courage
The Neurobiology of Courage

I find this 2010 study, published in Neuron, absolutely fascinating. Researchers in the Department of Neurobiology of the Weizmann Institute of Science (led by Uri Nili, a rock climber when he’s not in the lab) asked people who were afraid of snakes to bring a live snake close to their heads. Meanwhile, the scientists peaked […]

Know Thyself: Mental Training with Paige Dunn
Know Thyself: Mental Training with Paige Dunn

Last winter, I went on a campaign to surf the biggest waves I could find as a sort of experiment in fear studies. Surfers tend not to talk to sports psychologists or mental trainers, but I had the good fortune of running into the incredible Paige Dunn along the way. Paige is an experienced endurance […]

Fear Won’t Go Away. You Change How You React to It
Fear Won’t Go Away. You Change How You React to It

Your body is made of about 60 percent water. The blood in your veins is close to the consistency of seawater. Even the human brain is more than two-thirds water. Keeping this in mind, try to feel that original part of yourself. Imagine those elbows and knees, bits of tooth and jaw and skull, dissolving […]

Beyond the Fear of Pain: Jamie Patrick
Beyond the Fear of Pain: Jamie Patrick

(Photo: Bryan Hayes) “When I’m trying to figure out these things that I’m going to do, I try to find the one thing that I’m most afraid of – whether it’s a longer distance, or whatever, that’s what I thrive on.” Jamie Patrick is one of the best ultra athletes on the planet. He recently […]

Into the Darkness with Mike Madden
Into the Darkness with Mike Madden

(Photo: Mike Madden) “You have the fear of drowning, and you add claustrophobia and all sorts of other kinds of phobias, buried alive, and cave diving has a very high stress level…But there is no question that the biggest enemy in the cave is your own mind.” JY: How did you get into cave diving? […]

The Doctor’s Diagnoses on Fear
The Doctor’s Diagnoses on Fear

“If fear is something that you hold in your mind in anticipation of something bad happening, I don’t hold that in my mind. I don’t see that kind of peril in surf, no matter how big it gets.” Mark “Doc” Renneker is both a world renowned physician and big-wave explorer. He is one of the […]

JT Holmes: Transforming Fear to Focus
JT Holmes: Transforming Fear to Focus

In 2009, 60 Minutes featured Holmes and friends BASE-jumping in “wing suits,” flying squirrel-like getups that allow them leap off, say, a 1000 foot cliff, and cover up to 2.5 feet horizontally to every one-foot of vertical free-fall. It’s the closest thing to a human flying without a motor, and JT recently took his flying […]

The Science of Choking
The Science of Choking

Recently I had the opportunity to apply some of my research from The Fear Project to an ESPN Magazine feature for their Choke issue. The Science of Choking, by Jaimal Yogis IT WAS A CHIP SHOT. With just 15 seconds left in the AFC championship game against the Patriots in January, the Ravens’ Billy Cundiff […]

What is the best fighter on earth afraid of?
What is the best fighter on earth afraid of?

I had the good fortune of growing up best friends with one of the world’s best Mixed Martial Arts fighters ever, Urijah Faber. Recently I sat down with the former world champion to ask him what he’s scared of. JY: When you go into the ring, the night of the fight, what are you feeling […]