How Do You Develop Courage?

You can’t—not directly. Courage is the result of an adaptive process that requires a person to call upon internal resources to confront a threat and overcome fear. Courage is a product, not a component. Development of its components, however, is the way to enable courageous behavior. What is courage’s primary component? Confidence—a reliable belief in your abilities. How do you develop confidence? Practice. Now we’re on to something. The urge to travel abroad by myself both invigorated and terrified me. So, I practiced going places solo to help myself manage fear. Feeling and dealing with the discomfort of dining out...
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What does outcome have to do with courage?

Nothing. A high school crush taught me that. I had a ridiculously big crush on James*. Bigger than the ones I had on Keith* and Shawn*. The butterflies in my belly swarmed when I saw him, and the only way to settle them was to turn away. But, I never wanted to miss the smoothness of his steps or the brightness of his smile. James was the tall, dark, beautiful basketball star that every girl in the high school wanted. Including me. I contemplated for weeks about whether to write him a note disclosing my attraction. What if he liked...
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The Courage To Be in 2017

What had a year’s worth of inquisitiveness about courage amounted to? That’s the question I reflected on a few days before the end of 2016. I had a virtual pile of notes about its nature, variables, development and application, and sifting back through it reminded me about the virtue’s complexity and power. Courage has been discussed, debated and researched for over 2,000 years, yet it doesn’t have a universally accepted definition despite it being universally admired. Summoning the virtue can also be a bit of a puzzle, requiring many of its pieces to fall perfectly into place. One of those...
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Commitment: An Important Tool in the Courage Toolbox

I was one click away from buying a round-trip ticket to Ubud, Indonesia. An arduous slow dance with Fear got me to that point. I took one measured step at a time and pushed Fear back at the same pace. But, now, Fear wasn’t so moveable. It sat beside me at my desk, shoulder to shoulder, reiterating with vigor why traveling across the world by myself was a terrible idea. I could get hurt or kidnapped or lost or panicked or homesick or stranded or confused or swindled. Its tone transitioned from authoritative to desperate, but the entire diatribe registered...
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One place everyone should have the courage to go

The customs lady asked me two million more question than she did the couples before me. She sensed my annoyance and offered that she was “doing her job,” but the bewilderment in her brows and disbelief in her tone hinted at her personal bias against vacationing alone. My taxi driver inquired, rather dramatically, “How can you enjoy your own company [on vacation]?” In the quiet time I took to figure out if he was joking, he asked me again. I guess he wasn’t. I had every intention of writing an article about conjuring the courage to travel alone—through repelling ignorance...
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35 Lessons for my younger self (and other girls)

I turned 35 today, and like a few other milestone birthdays, this one brought with it an irresistible charge to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. Here are 35 of them I’d relay to my younger self and other girls. Remember to play. Everyday. Follow your curiosity. Concern yourself more with feeling good than looking good. Be careful who you tell your dreams to. Spend more time doing than dreaming. Force nothing … not your foot in a shoe, not your self in a relationship. Cook more than you eat out. Feed your creative soul. Learn how...
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3 Ways To Build A Better Relationship With Fear

Fear is a deeply ancient instinct and an evolutionarily vital one … but it ain’t especially smart. – Elizabeth Gilbert I read Eat Pray Love when I was 27. The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s culture and countryside painted pictures of detailed wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies in my imagination. And I was there. In the middle of it all. Shining in the sun, marveling at nature’s grandeur and breathing in the freedom of being halfway across the world by myself, just like author Elizabeth Gilbert. Then, I snapped out of it. The last thought produced a panic...
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The Importance of Courage in the Development of Girls

Adolescence, the awkward transition period between childhood and adulthood, gives girls a choice to assert themselves or conceal themselves. The latter may be easier than the former when girls’ body and personality changes intersect with oppressive norms and gender stereotyping perpetuated in social circles and the media. Their fear of standing out or being inadequate is enough to silence their voices … unless they’ve developed courage as a behavioral response. Courage is considered the foundational virtue of every other virtue. Aristotle called courage “the first human virtue.” Poet Maya Angelou declared, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues,...
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