Walk Towards the Cannons
Heroes don’t just appear on the day of battle, they are grown in the fields of home. Courage is a virtue, not a random act in time, and is actually one of the six virtues which has been correlated through research with happiness. Think about it, if you have the courage to do what you believe needs to be done in any situation, despite fear, you can happily be your truest self in any situation.
As is often quoted, "The secret of life is this: When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them." - Marcel France
Courage comes in two forms. The one we most often think of when we call someone a hero is physical courage, the bravery needed to face physical pain, hardship or threat of death. But although not celebrated as often, courage can also be an act of morality. Moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, discouragement or personal loss. Rosa Parks and Gandhi come to mind, but so does my daughter who defended a bullied student at school.
Courage is not the same as fearlessness. As Mark Twain put it, "Courage is resilience to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear". If there is no danger at hand, there is no need for courage.
Courage is a universally admired virtue worthy of promoting. So how can courage be developed? Sometimes courage can be mustered when there is a greater fear of the results of inaction. For example, being shamed in front of peers may motivate a teen to risk danger.
A better form of development, though, is not creating a greater fear, but building your virtue of courage through habit. Current research suggests that courage is a moral habit developed by practice. This is, of course, consistent with Biblical advice. Consider David’s courage to confront the giant Goliath in battle. He cited his prior victories over a lion and a bear as his reason for confidence in himself and faith in God.
If fear is keeping you from flourishing, try facing your fear by breaking it down into small steps requiring lesser degrees of courage. For example, if fear of speaking in public is keeping you from a work promotion, try creating opportunities to casually speak to small groups of people in the lunchroom as a practice ground for courage mastery. Be sure to reward and acknowledge yourself for the courage you use to do the small things, and it will build your confidence.
There is no quick way to become virtuous, so be strong and courageous and start walking toward some cannons.
by Tova Kreps, LCSW, President & Co-Founder
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Bible Gateway. (2019). Bible Gateway passage: Deuteronomy 31:6 - English Standard Version. [online] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV [Accessed 12 Sep. 2019].