In biology we learn that the natural human response to fear is “fight or flight”. In other words, when we face fear or adversity, our natural response is to run away or fight/attack the source of the fear. But what if there is a third option?
The problem with a fight or flight response is that neither one of them are very pleasant. We actually don’t want to find ourselves in a fight or flight situation – both are stressful and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, a lot of us are in a mild state of fight or flight all day long – when we feel stress at work, when we fight our way through traffic, when we watch the news. We don’t realize it but many times throughout the day we are responding to our fight or flight instincts. Often we feel a subtle but persistent sensation that can result in anxiety, stress, and many other lasting and chronic health conditions.
Flight or flight responses are not only present in our day to day life but also in our long term planning. We try to consider all of our fears when we make long term plans. So we buy things like life insurance, we buy vehicles with extra safety features, we store extra food, and lately, we might wear masks or take other preventative measures to keep healthy. We think it is “smart” to worry about the future, but is it?
What is missing from our biological instinct is trust. If we feel a fight or flight response it is usually because we don’t trust something or someone. Maybe we don’t trust our co-workers or our boss, maybe we don’t trust others on the subway, maybe we don’t trust our government, maybe we don’t trust the future will “work out fine”. When we don’t have trust we are living in fear, and that is how we find ourselves constantly worrying. Worry is just a subtle form of fight or flight.
But humans are amazing. And one of the things we can do to counter the fight or flight response is to learn to dance.
Dancing means life is not in a boxing ring, life happens on a dance floor.
Dancing means we consciously choose to enjoy the moment, and let go of what we think are the risks and doubts about the future.
Dancing means we put a smile on our face and realize it is just good to be alive.
Dancing means we acknowledge everyone else’s role in our life, even if we don’t particularly like the music that is playing at the moment, we get up and dance anyway.
Dancing means we are the show, and we are here to play – not run or fight.
Dancing means we can be agile and quick – we can steer clear of obstacles underfoot, we can duck when someone’s arm comes at our head, and we can spin around when life throws us a curveball. And we can look and feel good while we do it.
Don’t just survive, Dance.