As part of our Halloween weekend celebration, my girlfriend and I went on a Paranormal ghost tour of the 4th most haunted building in America. It was a truly creepy experience. We have several pictures of white orbs floating across a pitch black theater, and even one that shows a shadowy figure standing near a window.
Was it real?
Who knows? But it got me to thinking about how this particular holiday motivates us to do something we would never choose to do the other 364 days of the year.
We allow ourselves to find joy in feeling fear.
In October, it's commonplace for people pay big money for the chance to walk through elaborate haunted houses and be chased by lifelike zombies wielding chainsaws.
Even if haunted houses aren't your thing, you will happily gather with friends to watch horror flicks that make you want to sleep with a nightlight on.... just in case.
Why would we choose to feel fear? Because at the most basic level, it meets a fundamental human need.
Tony Robbins teaches each of us has a basic need to feel uncertainty. We need surprises, variety, and new stimuli to keep us from feeling bored. We can meet this need by trying a new restaurant, biking to work instead of driving, or in the case of Halloween, paying someone to give us a good scare.
Yet, as much as we have a need for uncertainty, we also have a fundamental need for certainty. We need to know that we can avoid pain.
Why? Constant pain equals suffering. Ultimately, constant suffering will lead to death. Thus, we avoid it at all costs.
Haunted houses and horror flicks are appealing because they also meet this need for certainty. We can suspend our disbelief, be entertained, but simultaneously feel certain that what we experience is make-believe and not putting us in mortal danger.
As I coach my clients, I see this never-ending dance between certainty and uncertainty is what truly determines the quality of our lives.
We value certainty at a high level, as it's a survival need. This explains why we stay in a job two years (or ten years) too long. We are addicted to the certainty of the steady paycheck. We stay in relationships that make us unhappy because we are certain it's better than being alone.
But if we want to thrive in life rather than merely survive, we must be able to do what we do on Halloween. We must find pleasure in uncertainty.
In fact, the quality of your life is directly proportional to how much uncertainty you can live with.
"But Dan, Halloween is different. I KNOW that I will make it through the haunted house unharmed. I don't know that life will work out the same way if I take a risk!"
There are two things that we need if you want to make a transformation in our life.... courage and clarity.
Most of us insist on finding clarity before we act with courage. We want to know things will work out in the exact way we want, on the exact timeline, and that we won't have any setbacks along the way.
That's not the way the Universe works.
Our journey requires us to act with courage first, knowing that clarity will always come soon thereafter.
Thomas Edison failed many times before inventing the light bulb. The Wright Brothers crashed a lot of flying machines before achieving manned flight. But in each setback, they gained more clarity on how to ultimately achieve their dreams.
The same holds true for you.
Now is your time to play a bigger game.
What areas are the need for certainty running your life?
Are you valuing it more than love? If so, you will struggle to open up and be vulnerable in romantic relationships.
Is certainty more important to you than growth? This explains why you feel stuck in a dead end, soul-sucking job.
The good things you crave in your life are on the other side of facing uncertainty.
And as we experience each Halloween, there is nothing wrong with facing your fears. It can actually feel exciting if you embrace it.
Dan Mason is a transformational life coach specializing in helping clients thrive by finding their life's purpose. Go to www.creativesoulcoaching.net and sign up to watch a special online master class on how to get unstuck and design the life you REALLY want. Then email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a FREE, 25-minute, Breakthrough Coaching Session today!