Courage is easier than you think.

Courage is easier than you think.
Photo by Muzammil Soorma / Unsplash


Do you have it?

Do you lack it?

Wish you had more of it?

You're not alone.

Many of us have been in situations where we've hesitated to act courageously. But here's the thing: courage is not reserved for the extraordinary; it's a quality we can all develop and harness in our everyday lives.

What Is Courage, Really?

Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's the willingness to confront fear head-on.

In a culture that often celebrates fearlessness, we may mistakenly believe that courage only belongs to a select few. People like John Wayne, frontline warriors, and those people who jump off the 9o' high dive platforms.

That's not what research says, though.

Research shows that anyone can cultivate courage through practice. Psychologists Cynthia Pury and Charles Starkey found that heroic individuals rarely mentioned fear in their stories of bravery.

Courage means acknowledging your fears and acting despite them—a form of nobility within reach.

Cultivating Courage as a Habit

What if, instead of looking at courage as an unreachable trait, we instead thought of it as a habit. Like a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened.

Brene Brown aptly describes it as a habit, a virtue learned through courageous acts. Start by expressing your thoughts on small matters with conviction. Do little courageous acts that will work the muscle.

“Courage is…a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” - Brene Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.

Compassion and Courage

So, how do we work out the muscle?

Courage often shines brightest when we stand up for others. Focusing on a cause or someone else's well-being can make it easier to summon courage. A Princeton graduate, John Burford, exemplified this when he spoke out against fraternity hazing. His focus was not on personal consequences but on the safety of future students.

Compassion and courage go hand-in-hand.

To feel hurt, pain, and suffering for others – that takes courage.

And to really act – to get down into the weeds of an issue and make decisions that you know might be initially unpopular takes bravery.

Compassion is courage and courage is compassionate.

Anyone can walk away, shrug their shoulders, or blame societal problems on individual failings. But that isn’t how we will resolve the climate crisis, end poverty, or stop discrimination. That is why we need compassion.

Last Thoughts For Now

Courage isn't the exclusive domain of heroes or daredevils. It's a trait we can nurture and develop in our daily lives. And as we practice, perhaps starting with compassion, it gets easier over time.

We can become more courageous people one courageous act at a time. One moment of compassion at a time.

Remember, courage is not about being fearless; it's about being afraid and acting anyway.

How about you? Do you think of yourself as courageous? Do you agree that courage means being afraid and acting anyway? What acts of courage inspire you most?