The Goosebump Effect

Goosebumps are caused by the same reflex that makes porcupine quills stand up.

Goosebumps are caused by the same reflex that makes porcupine quills stand up.

Have you ever had something happen in your life that gave you goosebumps? Or have you ever listened to a friend tell a story and got goosebumps? I’m not talking about being cold and getting goosebumps, or watching a scary movie and getting them. I’m talking about a moment of knowing that you are in the presence of something important.

What Are Goosebumps?

Here’s where I let my inner nerd run rampant.

Goosebumps are a reflex caused when the muscles at the base of body hairs contract, which makes the hairs stand straight up. It’s part of the sympathetic nervous system that prepares the body for action, either fight or flight. Interestingly, it’s the same reaction that causes the quills of a porcupine to raise when they are threatened. The name comes from the appearance of goose skin after plucking the feathers.

In my life, I have very clear experiences of having the hairs on my body stand up when something terrifying happens. That’s the same reflex response, but I don’t call that goosebumps. I call that being terrified.

For me, goosebumps are something different. They are the feeling that I’m in the presence of something important and amazing, a moment that is not like the one before it or the one that follows it. When I get goosebumps, I know it is a sign that I should be paying very close attention to what is being said and what is happening.

Goosebumps Everywhere

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who told me a story about something happening in her life. As soon as she got to the good part, I was covered in goosebumps. Now, we were having lunch in Phoenix, and it was nearly 90 degrees. We were not in air conditioning, either. This was caused by my reaction to her story. (It’s a great story.)

I ask every happy couple I met to tell me the story about how they met. I do this for a lot of reasons, including the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic. But I’ve discovered that happy couples tell the most amazing stories of their meeting and courtship. Nearly every time, I get goosebumps when one says “I knew from the first time I saw him…” or “that was the moment I knew…” I believe the journey of love is one of the two most important and amazing journeys of human life. It’s no wonder that these love stories trigger goosebumps for me.

Business Goosebumps

For the last few weeks, I’ve been living in a state of goosebumpiness (is that a word?). For several months, I’ve been working on developing some new business lines, and things are coming to a head. Every few days, something happens that shows me I’m on track to starting up these new business activities. It’s simple things like a casual comment from someone who doesn’t know what I’m doing, and so they can’t realize the importance to me of what they just said to me. Or something more direct, like a former client calling to ask me if I know anything about “X”, which is exactly the service I’m about to announce.

I don’t usually get goosebumps over things as mundane as business. I’ve had some huge business successes, things that I worked on for months in secret, and when they happened, there were no goosebumps.  I did the happy dance around my office, I shouted, and I called friends very excited. But no goosebumps. So what’s the difference?

Manifesting My Dreams (And Goosebumps)

It’s taken me a while to figure it out, but I finally realized the cause of the goosebumps today. In the past, I’ve set a goal, figured out a plan, and worked my plan until I found success. That’s a classic formula, right? The one that all of these positive thinking, Tony Robbins-seque speakers say to do.

What I’ve been doing for the last 18 months is quite different. There’s been little action, and a lot more dreaming. I’ve captured a dream of something I wanted to do. I’ve replayed that dream in my mind, savoring the details, expanding on the vision of it, replaying it over and over in my head and heart. I’ve gotten a great deal of joy from this process, but I’ve not set a goal and started an action plan. Instead, I’ve let things evolve organically. I’ve gotten an idea, perhaps an inspired idea, to check out something, or to try something new. From there, I got another idea. It’s been a series of baby steps taken completely without a plan, taken as I feel inspired, and at the same time I’m thoroughly enjoying replaying a dream fragment in my mind.

The happiness from these two paths have also been dramatically different. When I was plotting my actions, and constantly adjusting my strategy, there was engagement, but no real happiness in that path. The happiness all came at the end with a successful result. In fact, if there had not been a successful result, I would not have had any happiness with that path.

With my recent path, there is happiness nearly every day. The act of chewing on the dream, of savoring it, of playing it over and over makes me happy. It’s almost like I was living it vicariously in those moments. Then, as I took inspired actions, as the dream slowly is becoming a reality, there’s even more happiness. When I am inspired to say or do something, and the result is surprising and positive, I do the happy dance around my office. Over such a small thing! It’s a path of happiness and goosebumps.

So which path do you think I’m going to use the next time I want to make a change in my business? That’s right, the path of happiness and goosebumps.

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

Leave a Reply

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy. Comments from first time participants are moderated.

CommentLuv badge

Have a blog? Allow CommentLuv to add your last blog post to your comment.

Sorry, you can't to browse this website.

Because you are using an outdated version of MS Internet Explorer. For a better experience using websites, please upgrade to a modern web browser.

Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Internet Explorer Apple Safari Google Chrome