Courage makes or breaks you. Here are five psychologically proven ways how to be more courageous in life. In this day and age, the only thing that can make or break your success is you.
In a lot of ways we’re lucky to live in the days and age we live in.
Only a decade or two ago, it was extremely costly (and near impossible) for most people to buy or hire the tools they needed to succeed. Cast your mind back twenty years or so and you’ll remember that a lot of people didn’t even have a computer.
I was stuck on a 486 Pentium Processor that moved with the speed and enthusiasm of a sloth, but without the cuteness.
And even those people who had decent computer often weren’t connected to the net and so weren’t connected to other people.
It would be impossible for me to launch this blog back then. And it was impossible for lots of other people to do the work they love too. And that’s just twenty years ago. Consider how thing’s were 50, 70, 100 years ago…
We’re lucky to live in the amazing time known as the 21st Century
Today, everything’s easier. We have access to tools, to knowledge, to other people. We have the world at our fingertips.
Most of us can afford the basic tools we need. And I don’t say that as a wealthy guy or anything. Trust me, I wish could afford a nicer office and a better laptop, but the point is I have a laptop and I can do what I love to do. And so can you.
Truth is, we’re blessed to live in a time when we have the power to make our dreams reality
It might not be easy to make your dreams a reality, but it is possible.
The one thing that holds us back is ourselves.
Forget about the money, the connections, and all that jazz for just a split second here. It’s not those material things we need. What we really need is to harness the power of our own minds. What we really need is courage.
If we act courageously and fearlessly, we can achieve anything
We need courage.
But just what the Jiminy Crickets is courage, exactly.
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 not have an issue running up to a clown and squeezing its red nose. But that’s because you don’t have coulrophobia (lucky you). 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.
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. Now, thanks to our objective view, we can now see five ways to make ourselves more courageous.
Here are the five most powerful ways how to be more courageous
- 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. Focus on the goal or the reward, however, and you’ll suddenly find yourself a lot more motivated, optimistic, and 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. So let me link you to one of the most personal articles I’ve ever written on this blog.
2: Weaken the “risk”
You can also change the way you’re viewing the risk. You can downplay the risk and make it less scary than it is.
Let’s go back to those 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.
3: Act towards things that mater
You remember our definition of courage? Part 2 said that courageous acts are acts made in pursuit of noble or worthy causes.
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: Take risks when you’ve got less to lose
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.
When you’re young you have the freedom to take risks. You have fewer responsibilities. That’s the time to take a chance. And you do need to take chances.
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.
- 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?
Don’t answer that question.
Negative people aren’t worth your time. Don’t even think about them.
Forget about other people. Act how you want to act. The second you forget about everyone else you connect with yourself and with your inner 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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