These early days of 2017 are tough. I have a stash of inspiring writings that I have collected over the years that I go to during times like these. For whatever I'm about to do, make jewelry, organize my studio, cook dinner, write a letter, I am bolstered by these wise words. They help - maybe you will enjoy too. I wish I knew who to credit this list to...I am not the author, a grateful student. Courage up!
1. Understand that in difficult situations, there are always choices. According to Chinese writer and philosopher Ming-Dao Deng, “Whether we remain ash or become the phoenix is up to us.” Are you going to let circumstances break you? Or are you going to break old habits and go to new heights? Your life does not depend as much on what happens to you as on how you respond to what happens to you. Keep in mind that even though an action may be scary at first, simply taking an action is the first step toward building courage.
2. Have the courage to move away from people who think negatively, who want to pull down your ideas. Misery loves company. If there are people around you who don’t give you the support you need, or who consistently tell you that you don’t measure up—walk away from them. Don’t take their words to heart. It takes courage to step outside a circle of people, but if that circle is defining who you are in a negative way, it’s time to move on.
3. Do not let your fears become bigger than reality. Remember that old definition of FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Humans are extremely creative; we can think of a million things that can go wrong in any given situation. Use that to your advantage. If you know that a particular obstacle might arise, you can prepare yourself and guard against it. Then let go of the things that are beyond your control. If you let it, fear itself gets larger and larger and keeps you from having the courage to move forward. Use yourself as an example. We’ve all done things that were frightening at first (made a speech, started a new relationship, began a new career). Most of the time, the result is that you realize they weren’t as bad as you thought they would be, and now you can go forward and do them again. You have to believe that taking an action is of greater benefit to you than letting the fear hold you back.
4. Go back to your core values. What are your beliefs? What types of people do you want to deal with in your life? What is integrity to you? What are the values you’re searching for? What keeps you going? The strongest people are those who keep their core values in mind every time they make a decision. They make decisions based not only on how they think, not only on how their gut feels, but also on what is inside their hearts. When you make a decision, ask yourself: Can I do this and keep my dignity? My integrity? Can I do it without hurting others? If you can answer yes to these questions, you’re probably on the right track.
5. Build up your courage step by step. Courage does not always come in one giant package. Success breeds success; every time you accomplish something, your confidence increases and builds upon itself. When you reach your goal, other people may look at you and say, “I can’t believe what you accomplished.” They see the one big event. What they don’t see is the history of small steps you’ve taken, each one demanding the courage that got you to this place. Push yourself a little more every day, and your courage will be nurtured and blossom before your eyes. Try greater and greater ventures until you are brave enough to accomplish undertakings far beyond what you thought you could. The rewards will be beyond your imagination.
6. Indulge in quiet confidence. Courage advances our skill and advances our position in life. But there’s also a warning that one must heed, and that is not to get too cocky. Don’t mistake hubris—pride taken to the extreme—for courage. Most people whom others consider to be heroes do not see themselves in that role. They simply took actions that needed to be taken. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your accomplishments, but let the accomplishments speak for themselves. They say more about you than words could ever express.
7. Savor the struggle. Courage doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes you must struggle against inertia. There are many times when we are in turmoil, when we are actively searching deep within ourselves to find the courage we need. Courage challenges us. There’s an old saying that goes, “You never see the true strength of a tea bag until it’s in hot water.” Any time you’re going to do something that is a courageous act in any way—small or large—there is a struggle to do it. Remember that you gain strength from that struggle. Understand that the struggle in itself will build you, not break you down.
8. Be original. Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to be first. True, other people might not understand, or might criticize your way of thinking. But it is only when you stretch outside of your current situation that you come up with new ideas. You don’t have to come up with astounding ideas or inventions that no one has ever discovered before. Being original means seeing things from your unique perspective and believing in their value. Being original means pushing old ideas in new directions. It’s not easy to do; it takes courage. But the “road not taken” usually offers the best scenery and the most exciting adventures. This is the courage that drives us forward and leads us to better lives.