Have you been in a life or death situation that required you to summon up great courage? Many of us have not. Although we have been in situations that test our resolve, usually it is not life or death. Frequently, our courage is called upon during everyday life, when performing seemingly routine activities.
Modern life has protected us from many dangers that were quite common in generations past. For example, no longer do we all need guns in our homes to protect us from grizzly bears, mountain lions, or other wild animals. We do not need to weather the elements with raw materials. In the current day and age people have electricity, running water, and adequate housing. Instead of hunting, we only need go to the supermarket. And instead of braving the elements, we can often get from home to work and back without even going outside. So why is it that when we think of courage, we only think of someone who overcame great odds or a life or death situation?
Sometimes when thinking of courage, we only think it applies to rare and uncommon situations. Yet can our ordinary life also be full of courage, even if we are not facing the end of a gun, a wild animal, or a vicious criminal? Can we fill our routine days with courage?
One definition of courage is the ability to overcome one's fears, and we can all overcome at least some of our fears. It is in this manner that every one, on a daily basis, can build up their courage.
The process is simple but challenging. First, select one of your fears. Figure out a plan to overcome it. Then follow your plan. In this way, courage grows and strengthens.
The first step is to write down your fears. Don't run away from your fears, don't avoid them. Face them head on.
Then, write down several specific actions that you can take in order to overcome those fears. Make up a master list of ACTION STEPS that will lead to overcoming your fear, or at least greatly decrease the fear.
For example, perhaps you are afraid of dying prematurely from a heart attack. First, you would write down your fear, then you would write up a plan of action designed to overcome the fear. One plan might be to exercise more, or perhaps improve your diet. By doing these things, your fear will decrease because you know you are doing your very best.
So today ask yourself: What would a person of courage do? Courage is a primal force that can be summoned up by thinking and planning, but it only becomes a part of your life when you take action.
To strengthen your courage, follow these steps:
1. Recognize your fears.
2. Write down a plan of action that will cause you to overcome or at least lessen these fears.
3. Make up a task list, and prioritize it.
4. Take action immediately.
Published by Tom Heston MD 3/6/2012
Tom Heston MD is a Johns Hopkins trained physician who practices clinical medicine in the Pacific Northwest.