The Fear Project: What Our Most Primal Emotion Taught Me About Survival, Success, Surfing . . . and Love

The Fear Project: What Our Most Primal Emotion Taught Me About Survival, Success, Surfing . . . and Love

An epic adventure full of incredible characters, death-defying athletic achievement, and bleeding edge science, THE FEAR PROJECT began with one question: how can we overcome our fears to reach our full potential?

Who among us has not been paralyzed by fear? In The Fear Project, award-winning journalist and surfer Jaimal Yogis sets out to better understand fear-why does it so often dominate our lives, what makes it tick, and is there even a way to use it to our advantage? In the process, he plunges readers into great white shark-infested waters, brings them along to surf 40+ foot waves in the dead of winter, and gives them access to some of the world’s best neuroscience labs, psychologists, and extreme athletes. In this entertaining, often laugh-out-loud narrative, Yogis also treats himself like a guinea pig for all of his research, pushing his own fears repeatedly to the limits-in his sport, in his life, and in love. Ultimately, Yogis shares with his readers the best strategies to emerge triumphant from even the most paralyzing of fears.

THE FEAR PROJECT gives readers insight into the following:

– How fear evolved in the human brain
How to tell the difference between “good fear” and “bad fear”
– How to use the latest neuroscience to transform fear memories
Why fear spreads between us and how to counteract fearful “group think”
How to turn fear into a performance enhancer – athletically and at work

In pursuing this terrifying-and often thrilling-journey with Yogis, we learn how to move through fear and unlock a sense of renewed possibility and a more rewarding life.


  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Ed 1st Printing edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609611756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611750
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
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  1. Jaimal Yogis’ book is a series of stories peppered with research and wonderful insights about coping with fear. He talks about some truly daunting life situations, but also the life situations many of us find ourselves in — falling in love, having children, creating art. One of my responding thought processes while reading it was that we *must* venture out, we *must* challenge our comfort zone — because that’s what courage is, and what being human is, and it’s how we fuel creativity and diversity and learning and growth. Embracing fear is an art, and this book is a very nice way to start that adventure.

    He writes: “In almost all primate species — and we are one — there is a phenomenon scientists call voluntary dispersal or voluntary transfer. A monkey, usually around adolescence, will leave the safety of his or her clan and family to go and mate with a monkey from another area, a huge risk. The monkey must leave the familiarity and safety of the clan, travel alone, and expose itself to what may be an abusive or dangerous group of monkeys. Romeo seeking Juliet is the prime human example of this, and while the importance of this brazen act is likely to keep us from all dating our cousins, it may be one of the origins of what we call courage.”

    In the next paragraph, he quotes Robert Sapolsky: “…We do know that following this urge is one of the most resonantly primate of acts. [snip] To hell with logic and sensible behavior, to hell with tradition and respecting your elders, to hell with this drab little town, and to hell with that knot of fear in your stomach. Curiosity, excitement, adventure — the hunger for novelty is something fundamentally daft, rash, and enriching that we share with our whole taxonomic order.Read more ›

  2. I have mixed feelings about this review. There are some good aspects to this book, but in the end I graded it down due to its flaws.

    The Good:
    -This book is in the manner of many science books written today for the general public. I enjoy this category of books,and I looked forward to learning about the subject of Fear. He does provide some information that I will benefit from.
    -The writing style and quality is good.

    The Bad:
    -In many books of this style, it’s common for the researcher to discuss a particular patient who has problems that are being discussed. The problem here is that the patient is always the author, and as often happens, when an author writes about himself, he goes into excessive detail and doesn’t know when to stop. One would think that this book is about Fear, but in reality it’s about his breakup, and then getting a new relationship, and then getting married, etc. A good editor would have trimmed this book down substantially. It feels almost as though the author didn’t have enough material, so he padded the book with personal data. There were many times when I would simply skim 10 – 15 pages because he was talking only about himself.

    As I said above, he does say some good things about brain research and its relationship with fear, but as other reviewers have said, the book could have been much shorter. If you’re interested in this subject, I’d recommend you use a different book. For the cost of this book, and more importantly, the time committed to reading it (and I did finish the book), I don’t think this book delivers.

  3. This book contains intellectual candy of a similar vein to Malcolm Gladwell. Where it falls short is when the author personalizes his “journey”. He just wasn’t able to make me care very much about his ever-so-awesome friends or his inability to commit to a woman. It’s a pity, because when he is able to get over himself it’s a great read with lots of useful and thought-provoking content.

  4. I like Jaimal Yogis… I think I saw him at the Beach (SF) once. I love how he disects “fear” which is something surfers must contend with. It’s full of personal experience and researched well through different disciplines like psychologists, extreme sports enthusiasts and professionals alike. I feel this book helped me face my own fears… become more intimate with my own fears because it makes one think about it (simply put.) And it is not limited or focused on surfers but it probably is focused more on (risk takers) and athletes.

  5. I got an early review copy of The Fear Project, and at first I was skeptical. I’ve seen many books tackle fear and many of them have been so-so.

    But once I started reading, I was hooked. Jaimal has a way of using stories and simple language to convey complex research studies and neuroscience findings. I found it fascinating, and a lot of what I discovered was in tune with what I’ve found working with people.

    This book is more of a well-written story than a dry book about fear, so if you want some entertainment with practical tips on how to overcome fear, I’d highly recommend this book.

    I wish there would’ve been even more practical tips on fear, which was the only downside really, but then again, you can only fit so much into a book. The tips that I found were great. Especially the part on using breathing to create resonance (relaxation) in your body.

    The bottom line: I rarely get through review copies of books and when I do, I rarely recommend them, but I really enjoyed The Fear Project by Jaimal Yogis. It’s a fun, educational read.

    You may want to check it out.

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