If we have courage in life, we can achieve anything.
Take one moment to think about the three best things you ever did in your entire life. I am willing to bet that all five of them required a lot of courage.
For me, for instance:
- Quit a lucrative career programming to follow my passion
- Moved country to Canada
- Became a meditation teacher
All those things involved a ton of courage.
When we act with courage we achieve amazing things. And when we fail to have courage, we hold ourselves back and stop ourselves from living our best lives.
That’s why we must stop fear
And we must must develop courage.
What is courage?
Back in 2010 a psychologist by the name of Chris Rates stated that for an act to be courageous it must have three attributes:
- It must be intentional
- It must be made in pursuit of a noble / moral / worthy goal
- It must involve risk
If, for instance, you’re jumping in front of a car to stop it from hitting a kid, you’re hitting all three markers: intent, morality, and risk. But if you’re jumping in front of a car just for a dare, that’s less courageous and more stupid (because the action is not noble or worthy).
Intent. Nobility. Risk. Those are the three proponents of courage.
But courage is a highly individual thing.
You might be totally cool running up to a clown and squeezing its red nose. But that’s because you don’t have coulrophobia (fear of clowns). Personally, if I ran up to a clown I’d be terrified. I’d need courage to do it. The action would be courageous for me because I’m afraid of clowns, because I perceive there to be a risk in approaching a clown (entirely thank to Steven King)
So, let’s change our definition of courage a little bit so it accommodates individuality.
Courage can be defined as having the following three parts:
- An intentional action
- An action in pursuit of a goal we personally deem to be worthy
- An action made in the face of a subjective risk.
- Essentially, it’s about being a tough person.
So, we’ve laid out precisely what courage is. We’ve taken an objective view of courage.
With this definition of courage we can logically deduce five ways to be more courageous in life. And oh boy are they game-changers.
The Top 5 Ways To Be More Courageous In Life
1. To be more courage focus on goals
It is a scientific fact that people who are courageous also have high levels of hope. That’s because they focus on the goal not the risk.
Focusing on an object makes that object expand in your mind.
If you focus on the risk you’ll become more afraid.
If you focus on the goal you will be more motivated, more optimistic, and more courageous.
So let’s say that I personally want this blog to blow up and become very popular. To do that I want to share some of myself with you. But (hypothetically speaking) I’m afraid to share myself with you in case you dislike me. Pretty logical situation, right? Obvious risk, obvious reward.
In this situation, I could focus on the fear of rejection. But that’d only make me more afraid. So instead I’m going to focus on the goal / reward of making this blog popular.
Now that I’m focusing on the reward I’m able to act courageously and share some of myself with you, which I have done above when I shared my fear of clowns).
2: Replace fear with courage by lessening perceived risk
The next way to increase courage is to reduce the perceived risk and make the situation less scary.
Let’s go back to my fear of clowns.
If you’re afraid of clowns, when you see a clown you might think that they’re going to attack you, that they’re going to eat you (like Stephen King’s IT) or that they’re going to perform some other violent and foul deed.
But hold up.
What if we don’t focus on those risks? What if we instead choose to think that the clown might just spray us with its water-flower-thing or that it will shake our hand with a buzzer and shock us? That’s not so bad.
When you think about alternatives to all the bad things that might happen, you limit the sense of risk. It’s then a lot easier to act courageously.
For more on this, read my guide to the best CBT exercises.
3: Boost your courage by acting nobly
Courage is defined as acts taken in spite of danger and, importantly, acts that are noble or worthy.
To be more courageous in life we can act in pursuit of the goals that truly matter to us.
Mothers are famous for acting incredibly courageously when they’re kids are in trouble. The reason is simple: kids matter a hell of a lot. Kids are one of the most important things in the world, possibly the most important thing in the world. We’d do anything for our family members and friends. Acting courageously on their behalf is easy, because they matter so us so much.
Act in pursuit of what truly matters and you’ll find you’re as brave as a soldier.
4: To be more courageous, forget about losing
You’re never going to do anything Earth-shatteringly amazing if you just take the safe route every time. Man didn’t land on the moon without risking being sucked into outer space and lost for eternity. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t change society without putting his own head on the line. Soldiers don’t protect our freedoms without risking their lives.
You need to take chances. And the best time to take those chances is early on, when the risk is not as great.
Be courageous when you are just getting started with something. If, for instance, you’ve just started a new business endeavour, take every creative risk while you have nothing to lose. Because once your business is successful you will be less courageous and far more fearful of losing what you already have.
When I was twenty one I finished my media degree. I could have gotten a job in media quite comfortably. I mean sure, it would be a challenge, but it would be doable, and setting out on a comfortable career would be the smart thing to do, right?
I didn’t do that.
Instead I opted to get into acting and writing. I went to drama school. I toured England on stage. I wrote a novel. I took risks.
And thinking back, I’m glad I took risks when I did.
5. Remember that negative people don’t deserve your attention
A lot of people fail to act courageously because they’re worried about how other people might think of them.
What will people think of you if you fail?
Who gives a damn. Forget what other people will think. If you act with courage you will already be better than the average person.
Reward courage for its own sake. Even if you take a risk and fail, be proud that you dared to take the risk in the first place.
A Meditation For Courage
As a meditation teacher, I often use meditations for courage.
Meditation trains the mind and strengthens your resolve. It can also be used to eliminate negative thoughts that hold you back.
Try this guided meditation for courage.
Courageous people are the ones that make the difference, the ones that change the world. That’s why courageous people throughout history have stuck by the five psychological rules above.
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