When I came to Alaska as a 21 year old, I was pretty psyched about bears. I can remember scarcely sleeping many nights under canvas, and many a heart pounding resulting from juncos rustling around in the leaves.
I hardly went anywhere with one or more large caliber firearms in or around my person. Well, I just like guns, so maybe it wasn't all about being nervous over bears, but that was certainly a big part of it.
In the intervening decades I've had a number of encounters with bears. All of them have turned out good for both the bears and I, and my outdoor sleeping habits have become more restful.
My attitude about bears changed the most at Pack Creek and McNeil River, two well-known Alaska bear viewing areas. At both of those places, I observed bears and people in close proximity, and I experienced a real paradigm shift. I recognize full well that bear behaviors in those places are artifacts of some unusual circumstances and "training" of both bears and people. Still, observation of bear behavior there and elsewhere has brought me to a shift in thinking.
My attitude has gone from expecting trouble to expecting to NOT have trouble -- but being ready for it (I hope). It's like having a gun in the bedroom. No one expects to use it, but it's good to have it nearby just in case.
How about you....how do you feel about being in the neighborhood with bears?