Who are your role models for moral courage?
The 7 Acts of Courage breaks new ground in the self-help field, offering clear, practical guidance on how we can seize control of our lives through courage. In this updated edition, which includes compelling new stories, the author reveals how to successfully move from the Courage to Dream through to the Courage to Act.
The ultimate act of courage is to let go. We hold so tightly to what we know, to how we think, to our identity, that we end up crowding out the grace of new beginnings and possibilities. This robs us of the full experience of “what is”. We can end up living in the past, in memory and recollection versus in the living moment, unable to be receptive to what is seeking to be born within us. We constrict the vital movement of emotions and of life force in an attempt to be “sure” or to be “safe.”
You can practice the courage to let go by looking at the material things in your life first. Marie Kondo, in her best-selling book The Magic Art of Tidying Up, recommends handling every object you own and answering the question, “Does this bring me joy in the present moment?” To keep a possession, the answer must be a clear “yes”. It counts as a no if you answer, “It used to bring me joy” or, “It might bring me joy tomorrow”. In this way, you come to surround yourself only with objects – clothes, books, furniture, etc. – that bring you joy. My wife got me to do this with my clothes. It was amazing to discover how few clothing items I actually reach for on a regular basis. It is now much easier to see what might be missing from my wardrobe, and it is quite frankly a daily pleasure to go into my closet.
Next, take a look at less tangible things that may be weighing you down. What old patterns of thinking and acting are you ready to let go of? Make a list of all the adjectives and labels that you describe yourself with, and all the habits that you regularly engage in. Of these, which no longer serve you? Which could you let go of in order to open to greater spaciousness and sense of possibility in your life? Pick just one or two to start with. Sometimes it is easier to let go of something that no longer serves if you can simultaneously replace it with a new thought or habit. If you no longer want to claim yourself as “physically unfit”, what exercise activity can you insert into your life immediately? You don’t have to sign up for a gym or expensive trainer to get started. How about parking your car farther away from the store or office building, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or, better yet, finding some lunchtime walking partners?
At other times, the courage to let go may mean recognizing the need for change without having a clear solution in mind. It might take days, weeks, even months of compassionate contemplation until one day a clear next step shows itself, fully formed. That is the time to move, boldly and gracefully, within the ever-changing flow of life. Trust that what you seek is also seeking you. Turn your eye to each new day, each fresh start with gratitude for what has come before. And then, be bold and take the leap!
By Robert E. Staub
Make a practice of noticing the fleeting moments of beauty in your life. By celebrating these, you will have a treasure trove of memories that shape you beautifully too.
How can you Act even when you’re scared?
What is your self-talk when you plan on “doing”? How is that different when you plan on “trying”?
Many dreams never leave the drawing board. Some never even get that far. But if you have been bold enough to dream, and to put forth your dream–and if you have taken an honest inventory of your current reality, practiced compassionate confrontation and non-defensive listening, made room for learning and loss–the time to act on your vision will invariably come. Clearly, manifesting dreams requires action. When that action is informed and guided by the first six acts of courage [link: https://theactsofcourage.com/], dreams have real traction.
Whether the dream is a personal one or in service to a group vision, you will be well served when you have taken stock of all your resources, taken an inventory of and addressed obstacles, opened to fresh ideas alongside tried and true methods, and searched for and acquired what is missing. Now comes the fun part: taking action. If your dream doesn’t manifest exactly as you imagined it on the first pass, you can quote Thomas A Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And then, take fresh action.
Consider the actions you have been avoiding. What is the cost to you emotionally and spiritually when you don’t take action on things that you know need doing? In particular, how does it make you feel when your dreams keep getting put on the back burner? Are there ways in which you could take the smallest action step in the direction you want to go? Is it feasible to wake up 30 minutes earlier every day and take action to accomplish your goal? Could you block off a longer chunk of time on your calendar, in service to acting on your dream, something as immutable as any “important” appointment? And most delightfully, who will help you celebrate your every achievement on the way?
If you have been a spectator or simply a character in your life, I invite you to become the scriptwriter. Set the scene, then courage, lights, action!
by Robert E. Staub
Would you rather have loved and lost or never loved at all?
VULNERABILITY: OPENING TO LOVE, LOSS, AND JOY
Are you open to living your life as completely, deeply and fully as possible? Do you value being loved by, and loving, others? If your answer to these questions is “yes”, then you will need the courage to be vulnerable. As you open your awareness to life, you realize that death and loss go hand in hand with birth and gain. The courage to be vulnerable is willingness to stay open, to love and let in what you most desire, even though a future loss may bring heartache. I find too many people holding themselves back, trying to not be hurt by disappointment, and locking away key parts of themselves. Poet Elizabeth Sewell describes this as “drawing the tombstone up to the chin (in life)”. This is no way to live. To be fully alive means loving and living openly and seizing each one and only moment for all it is worth.
The courage to be vulnerable is a prerequisite to being able to enjoy love, to being authentic, to living with joy. Yes, loss and pain will be there and come along with the joy and love. Yet, even when you try to protect yourself from being hurt, you have probably found that you simply hurt yourself more. You deprive yourself, as well as those around you, of the power of your full presence, openness and engagement. It is a bargain with the devil when you cut yourself of from feeling love; it simply guarantees that you will feel greatly deprived now, AND in the end.
If you are willing to be open to the wholeness of your life experience, instead of settling for being “safe” and closed-in, then I invite you to make a list of the things that matter most to you and the people you love the most. Outline ways in which you may have been holding back; perhaps there are words you have left unexpressed for fear of rejection or loss. Who would you reach out to if you were on your deathbed? What would you say to them? Why wait? Be bold: practice vulnerability and open to love, starting in this precious moment now.
By Robert E. Staub