The writer Anais Nin once observed that “life shrinks or expands in proportion to your courage.” And she is 100% correct. The quality of your life is directly related to your ability to act bravely.
I remember those moments in life when I was scared like a little chicken. But I knew that if I don’t do something about my fear, I will suffocate. The moment when I decided not to let my fear controls my life but take a challenge and break through, that was the moment I won. I believe many of you can relate to this feeling since we all have the privilege to experience it.
It always comes down to this. You have a choice. Each day you can choose to act with courage and create the kind of life that you dream of. Or you can decide to bow your head, back down and lead what the philosopher Hobbes called “a life of quiet desperation.”
This idea of facing your fears is a critical point. You might not think you are capable of being brave because you feel afraid. In fact, it is impossible to be courageous without a presence of fear.
Think of your fear as a signal. It’s an indication that courage is about to be required. The difference between the person who is courageous, and those who are not, is what they choose to do after they experience fear.
1. Courageous life is your choice
The biggest misconception about courage is that you are either born with it, or you are not. We tend to think of people as being naturally courageous. But when we look at examples of people who were famed for the courage a different story is revealed. The people we think of as brave aren’t born brave. They choose to be that way.
For you to see the difference, let’s use your mental time machine. Picture yourself in the future. You are ninety years old. Maybe you are sitting in your rocking chair, looking out into the sunset, thinking back on your life.
Imagine the life you are going to reflect back on if your fear took over each time you were scared. You backed down and shied away. Think of the places you’ll never visit. The love you won’t experience. The wealth and pleasures you’ll miss out. Picture the small life that comes from living a life without courage.
Now see a different life. The one you would experience if you are brave. If you choose to say a big YES to life. If you feel the fear and do it anyway. Imagine the wonderful places you will have gone. The fantastic people you will have met.
You can’t even compare these two, can you?
2. Courage requires practice
The desire to become courageous is the first step, but it is certainly not the last. To become someone with a reputation for courage, it requires consistent practice. One of the best ways of thinking about courage is that it is a skill. Like acquiring any skill to become good at, it takes time.
If you had never run more than a few hundred meters before, then you wouldn’t have expected to run a marathon after a single day of training. Courage works exactly the same way. Commit yourself to start with small acts of courage and build up your “courage” muscles.
Maybe that small act of courage might be starting a conversation with a stranger or expressing yourself in a work meeting. Look for opportunities each day where you can train yourself and become fearless. Watch out for the fear signal. After just a few small acts of courage, you will grow into a bigger and braver person which allows you to aim higher than you thought possible.
3. Do it for a bigger cause
The Faraja Children’s home in Kenya houses dozens of young orphans. Anthony Omari, a caretaker of the orphanage, was the only grown man on the property. One day, criminals were looking to take advantage of the children and they raided the orphanage. The attackers were armed with machetes, but Omari bravely pushed them back and locked the orphanage to protect the children.
Imagine it was you facing those knife wielding maniacs. It’s late at night, and there’s no one to help you. Every cell in your body is telling you to get the hell out of there! If it were just you then running away would’ve made a whole lot of sense. But what if you are the only hope? What would you do?
Omari’s story is incredibly inspiring, but it isn’t certainly unique. When you look at the greatest acts of courage that have been performed in history, one thing stands out. They are invariably done to help other people or to support a larger cause. If you want to live a life of greater courage, then you should look outside of yourself.
Think about the people that you really love. It might be your children. It might be your wife or husband. It might be your parents. Picture them in your mind and imagine what would you be willing to do to protect them and make sure they are happy.
Want to live an exceptional life? Choose to commit to a life of courage. Practice it daily and find something bigger than you that needs courage.
It’s the best choice you are ever going to make.
My name is Silvia and I teach people how to turn their pain into power. My personal struggle inspired me to help people in living a powerful and fulfilling life which they create and control. You can find out more of my story by visiting my personal page www.silviaturon.com. Also, there is a FREE gift waiting for you. See you there!