Are you ‘Courageous” in your life? I don’t mean the; run into a burning building type of courage, but more the way you live your day.

There are times when having fear of something runs so deep within you that you simply freeze and wish you were someplace else. 

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

H. P. Lovecraft

Courage isn’t just about overcoming physical pain, or being a “tough guy”. To be tough even when you’re causing yourself real life bodily injury is just dumb. Part of having real courage is found in developing “GRIT”. Courage is about perseverance not bravery alone, we must be courageous in spite of our fears, we must continue on even in the face of failure and break through the desire to quit… 

It’s not easy to break through our fears, it’s not easy to keep going in face of what looks and feels like failure. Fear comes in many different forms and fear can be a useful tool if we don’t give in to it.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

Mark Twain

Let’s look at some places courage can materialize for us if we’re paying attention:

Chess not Checkers

Courageous people play the “long game” in life. They have the discipline and foresight to make decisions and act on their choices that affect them positively long into the future. Passing on the quick and easy wins and giving into impulse for immediate gratification. This is hard, but courageous people do it all the time.

Speaking up and speaking out

Have you ever let something slide, looked the other way, when we knew deep down we should have said something or done something?  I have for sure…

Now there are certainly times where it’s just not worth it. Sometimes you’re not going to change someone’s mind or affect any real change. Like on Social Media, I still do not see the real world value in arguing over politics online. You’re just not going to ever change anyone’s mind in the comments. But when it comes down to seeing an injustice or when someone needs standing up for when they aren’t around to do it for them selves, a courageous person does so.

You cannot hide behind being “riteuous’ as an excuse to be rude. Always show politeness, you don’t nave to be nice, but you can stand up for what needs it for and be polite about it. 

Taking that first step

The first step is the hardest. Courage isn’t always about striding forward without any fear. Most of the time, it’s about feeling fear, experiencing it, accepting and taking that first step anyway. To me, seeing someone’s first step into the gym or dojo is usually the most inspiring to me. Watching others overcome their fears and learn to thrive is so inspiring. It’s what we’re all looking for.

Having Authenticity   

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”- Brené Brown

Courage is also about being true to who you are. Do you know those people who paint everything with “rose colored glasses” who have that “false positivity”? You can’t just pretend everything is okay when it’s not. You have to deal with it, accept your demons and fight them.

It is also about being who you are around people you can trust to accept you for who you are. Finding and editing those around you so you can be your authentic self without fear of rejection. This takes effort and courage to say No to certain people and what they say and do. 

Do a quick audit and see who of your current friends you’d feel comfortable crying aorund or with. Being vulnerable around others is hard and takes courage to expose yourself. 

Avoid being a Critic

It is much easier to criticize someone than it is to do the work they’ve done. Think about it, a critic simply takes a few moments to look at all the work someone may have spent their entire life pursing and passes judgement on it instead of digging into something and creating on their own.

No one ever built a statue to a critic…

Follow your own path

It takes courage to walk your own path in life. Doing things that aren’t popular because you want to do them takes courage.

Have you ever met a couple who got married because it was just the next thing in life that was supposed to happen. Have you ever seen someone get a degree in something they didn’t enjoy because it’s what their parents said they should do? To be courageous in life is to let go of the idea that you exist to make others happy. 

I want to take a minute and talk about something as it relates to this, one of my all time favorite quotes adn life maxims is:

Master yourself, serve others

Mark Divine

Let’s be sure and not confuse the two ideas i’m describing here. The concept of “serving others” is not the same as simply tring to make someone else happy. The idea of working on yourself to truly understand who you are, what you stand for and believe in, through the path of serving other is noble and also take true courage for most of the things listed so far in this very post. 

Endure & Perservere

To persevere or endure through something that is difficult or scary is also courage. There are more things in life that are scary that are socially implied than are actually physically imposing to us.

In the Martial Art that I practice one of the pinnacle levels we reach is Blackbelt and the “symbol” we use to denote this is the Japanese Kanji for “Endure”. It takes 5-10 years to reach Blackbelt in our Martial Art to stick with it and endure through the times to get to this level is no walk in the park. You will need courage of will and even courage socially to stick with it long enough to accomplish this lofty goal, for i’ve seen hundreds of people come and go in the pursuit of it. The same can be said for many different true Martial Arts.

Another example of this can be found in Navy Seal training, specifically the BUD/S portion which contains something called “Hell Week”, is some of the most physically and mentally demanding training on earth. It has been said that many of the highly rated physically gifted individuals are often the first to quit, but that the people who come from the sparest of backgrounds, people who really have had to work hard for every scrap of everything they’ve gotten in life succeed and excel the most in the training. This is due to their Grit, their determination and their ability to Persist and Endure in the face of their fears.

Gain Courage Through “The Power of Now”

In his book “The Power of Now”  Eckhart Tolle brings us a few pathways to living life authentically and without fear and pain. It’s not at all and easy path to walk. But once we realize that most all fear and pain in our lives is a result of worrying about the future or lingering in the past we can being to see the things i’ve written about here in a clearer light.

Three bold concepts from his book to follow are:

  1. Life is just a series of present moments. 
  2. All pain [and fear] is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change. 
  3. You can free yourself from pain [and fear] by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts.

Most of the time the fear we experience in life is made up of thoughts of the past or future. Worrying about what might have been or how things may play out can consume our minds. That worry and misplaced focus if often spent on things that are out of our control. However the one thing we can control is how we respond to it all.  

We can work on building courage and perseverance by paying attention to the thoughts and feelings we have and recognizing them for what they are; just thoughts and feelings. That they are not real, that you have not acted upon them, that you have intercepted them and an now work on utilzing them as lessons or by enduring them can give you courage and a life as free of fear and pain as much as you possibly can. 

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