Very rarely do I feel "ready" for things. I can put in my best work, strive for perfection, lose sleep over it and finally make a decision or finish a project and I will still not feel ready for it. In the final moment, after I've done all that I can, the inevitable anxiety and shame that comes with change creep to the surface and I'm faced with a choice. I'm not perfect. Sometimes, I listen to the uncertainties and decide to stay where I am. But sometimes, I listen to them and decide to move forward anyway.
Most people understand that courage is about overcoming fear and doubt, not about the lack of it. Everyone meets this challenge nearly every day as we make the thousands of small, seemingly unimportant decisions that shape our lives. Our chances to be brave aren't reserved for month-long hiking trips or public speeches or grand gestures. Our courage is sandwiched between work hours and hobbies and late-night conversations.
Reach out to an old friend.
When enough time has passed since we've spoken with someone, we often doubt if they even want to hear from us. Most of the time, they do.
Go somewhere by yourself.
There seems to be this stigma around going places you enjoy by yourself. If that is the only reason you haven't checked out that local bookstore you've been wanting to explore, go for it! Being alone in public doesn't make you a lonely loser. It makes you someone who is comfortable enough with themselves that they can enjoy their own company. And if you aren't comfortable yet, be courageous and practice. Obviously, be safe while pursuing this small mission.
Create and share a project.
Writing articles and sharing them with literally anyone who has an internet connection makes me feel very vulnerable. The topics I choose are often related to my personal life and, as a relatively private person, this amount of exposure isn't something I take lightly. This is my weekly test of bravery and it has always brought connection, empathy and even new and deepened friendships. Maybe writing isn't your kind of project, but creating something to show the world requires a certain amount of personal fortitude that is as rewarding as it is terrifying.
Ask for help.
Despite all of the inspirational quotes and articles and stories about the importance of asking for help, it still isn't an easy thing to do. Asking for help can be as grand as admitting to your family that you struggle with depression or as simple as asking your roommate to pick up the milk that you forgot on their way home. In our individualistic society, it's easy to imagine that you are burdening others with even a simple request.
Be straightforward in conflicts.
Conflict - my arch nemesis. Conflict is, by definition, a little messy. Instead of getting swept away in emotion, being straightforward, compassionate and honest is going to get you farther and give you the confidence you need to face the next challenge head-on. It's your chance to use your fighting spirit for the good of everyone.
Honesty isn't reserved for conflicts. The truth is often the hardest thing to admit in many scenarios we come across in daily life. Like when your friend genuinely asks how you are doing or your child asks where your pet went or when the doctor asks if you've been exercising. Honesty requires your bravery in the short term but usually pays off later.
Try something new.
This is probably the most cliche way to be courageous in your daily life, but it's suggested so often for a good reason. New is different and different is uncomfortable. Different is also how we move forward individually and collectively.
Do someone a favor.
This may not seem like it would take bravery, but doing a favor for someone often means taking a risk. Risk-taking is inherent in any brave act.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
When we take the time to really consider the lives of others, particularly if they are from different backgrounds, it can expose our own ignorance and shortcomings. This exercise moves our world forward through the mettle of honesty and empathy. Admitting your prejudices doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a courageous one poised to make the changes necessary for us to live in a diverse world. Basically, it makes you a decent human being. This is the kind of commonplace bravery I hope will one day by automatic in our daily interactions with each other.
Keep someone else’s secret.
If someone confided in you, they dared to be vulnerable and took the risk that you would hold their truth in confidence. It's easy to want to talk about the juicy details of other's lives, but it shows a significant lack of integrity. Having discretion takes tenacity and often means being brave enough to face what these secrets mean to you on your own.
I believe we should challenge ourselves to follow a path which pushes us to practice courage in our daily lives. I encourage you to take a deep breath and have faith in your experiences. Lean into the imperfection and embrace its consequences with grace.
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