If curiosity pushes you to explore new things, fear pulls you back. When humans lived in the open, it seemed like anything and everything could hurt you. Fear kept us alive. Today, things are much different. We don’t need to worry about a lion jumping out and making a meal out of us.

Unfortunately, that fear is now part of everyone, deep in our wiring. Studies show we fear the unknown, more than we do a known bad one. In other words, you would rather eat a meal you know tastes bad than try a new one. This is nuts.

Deep down, we all know life would be boring if we didn’t try new things. But that fear is always there. You might say, “Can I do this? What if I fail? What if I look silly?” It is natural to think about what can go wrong. This is only useful if it helps you plan. It is harmful if it stops you in your tracks.

This is an actual picture from that night!

I had one of these moments. It was August 27th, 1998. I was a senior at Vanderbilt and it was the first day back to school. A bunch of us decided to go downtown and hang out. We ended up in one of our favorite spots, Lonnie’s.

I walked in the door and stopped. In the back corner was your Mom. It was like the place was empty and the spotlight was shining on her. In that second I had to decide. Go up and say hello or listen to my fear and go sit with my friends.

Lucky for me, and you kids, I said hello that night.

You will have hundreds, if not thousands of moments like these. They may not be as important as that night proved to be, but they all matter.

A lot of good comes from trying new things. Think about this list the next time you are facing the fear of a new experience.

Discover something new about yourself

Dr Seuss said, “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” If you never try new things you will never learn what you love.

Brooklyn, remember the fear the first time you got on a horse? Now look at you!

Cooper, it took three visits to GlowZone before you tried the zip line. Now you can’t get enough.

Keep pushing yourselves to overcome fear. You might surprise yourself and find a new passion.

Learn and grow

Pablo Picasso said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” This one is simple. The only way to learn is to do.

Trying new things lights a fire inside you. It spurs you to look at the world in a new way. It fuels your curiosity. All these things help you learn and grow.

Build courage

Every time you choose a new experience over fear, you build courage. You show yourself that you’re capable of more than you thought. As you get older, each new experience will come easier than the one before. You will conquer fear and live an amazing life.

Improve your health

Science shows that when you push yourself to try new things you become happier. We also know that our brains will try to hold us back if we let them.

There is a great concept called the 5-second rule. When you have a new choice, countdown 5,4,3,2,1 and GO! Don’t let fear win. It is about taking action, now.

Look at the next few months of new experiences:

Remember, it is natural for us to fear the unknown. That fear holds us back. It prevents us from living an amazing life. I never want you to look back and think “I could have or I should have.” Embrace as many new experiences as you can. Take chances. Live an awesome life!

This post is part of a series of letters to my kids. My goal is to reflect on and capture as many life lessons as possible. Here is the current list I am working from.