On Courage

Who Dares

Courage is universally regarded as a noble quality — a praiseworthy attribute worthy of respect. From ancient Greek myths to medieval fairy tales to Hollywood, cultures around the world are obsessed with the twin concepts of courage and self-sacrifice. From David and Goliath to the lion in The Wizard of Oz who gains enough courage to confront the witch, the archetype of the courageous person has been held up as something to aspire to since time immemorial.

There are of course different types - or different manifestations - of courage. The fear that accompanies physical courage relates to bodily injury or death. Moral courage relates to fear of others people's negative opinions. Looking foolish in public, for example, is a commonly held fear. But the power of moral courage is seen in the fact that it enables people to do what they believe to be right, regardless of the consequences.

Find Your Fear

As there are many variations of fear, there are many dimensions to courage. Many times both moral and physical courage will be required if a person is to retain the sense of being sincere and true to their self. Such combinations of different types of courage can be seen in the moral stances taken by Ghandi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in which they stood up for what they believed to be right despite risks to their reputation, personal lives and physical well being. The opportunities to act with courage are innumerable, as are the fears requiring courage in order to be overcome.

Courage is a universally admired virtue, and as such most people would regard it as something that should be promoted and fostered. In fact, it could be said that for any virtues to be cultivated in a society, courage should be foremost among them, because courage might be essential to maintaining and exercising the other virtues. It is said that Aristotle believed that an individual develops courage by doing courageous acts. People are more likely to face a situation and attempt to cope with it if their past experience gives them reason to believe they can meet the challenge.

Courage to Overcome

California based Clinical Psychologist Melanie Greenberg Ph.D., who's work focuses on Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, and Mind-Body issues, has devised a self help exercise aimed at instilling courage in individuals. Using "feeling afraid yet choosing to act" as the definition of courage, her exercise consists of thinking of a situation as an adult when one felt afraid, yet chose to face their fear. The participant should then ask themselves:

(a) What did I observe, think, and feel at the time?

(b) What did I or the people around me say, think, and do to help me face my fear?

(c) At what point did my fear start to go down? How did I feel afterwards?

The participant should then:

(d) think back on a situation in childhood in which I faced my fear. How was it the same or different than the first situation?

(e) Finally, think of a situation I am currently facing that creates fear or anxiety. What am I most afraid of?

(f) Now, is there a way to apply the same skills I used in the two earlier situations to be more courageous in this situation? The participant should remind their self that they have these skills and have used them successfully in the past. What mental or environmental barriers stand in the way of using these skills? How can one cope with or get rid of these barriers? The participant should repeat this exercise over the course of a week.

Of course the above is just an introduction to this Psychologist's exercise to build courage. The exercise is explained more fully here.

Inspiration for Adventure!

On that note, we present to you in this article 10 quotes of famous leaders, thinkers and artists on the topic of courage, to inspire you to inculcate courage in your daily lives!

1) “Courage means going against majority opinion in the name of the truth.” Vaclav Havel

2) “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

3) “One man with courage makes a majority.” Andrew Jackson

4) “Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

5) “Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.” Tom Krause

6) “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” Winston Churchill

7) “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.” Nelson Mandela

8) “It’s easy to stand with the crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.” Mahatma Gandhi

9) “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

10) “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou

Bonus: Motivational Quotes Posters

With our motivational quotes posters we hope to inspire people to be courageous, creative and adventurous. Check out our Motivational Quotes Collection including Iphone cases, Wall Art and Prints, and let us know what you think!

More Ways to Inspire

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