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How to be Courageous: A Complete Guide to Developing Courage

How to be Courageous: A Complete Guide to Developing Courage

Courage and muscle have a lot in common. The more we use them the stronger they get. Yet, if we neglect them they wither away and become frail, weak, and when called upon for quick action they often have a hard time firing up.

This post is all about the relationship between anguish and courage. The path that leads to a life lived on our own terms often features pebbles, boulders, and an occassional “this road is closed” sign.  It takes courage to walk across those pebbles, move that bolder, or have the patience to wait out that “road is closed” sign or to find another way around it.

Courage is life’s blood that fuels us

There’s an epidemic going on right now and it’s a lack of courage. It stems from the inability to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. To avoid accepting responsibility for our decisions, playing the victim, and not honoring who we are and what we believe in.

When was the last time you were courageous? When was the last time you felt butterflies in your stomach or your insides moving up into your throat? When was that last time you felt you scared, so nervous, or so unsure about a decisions you were making that you were certain the perspiration from your forehead might drown you or the pace of your heart would rival Usain Bolt’s 100 meter sprint pace?

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It might not always seem like it but the decisions we make every day can influence whether or not we face anxiety, stress, danger, pain, or difficulties. Courage is the willingness to make those decisions every day and live face to face with their outcomes. It is the ability to move forward regardless of any anguish you may face. Everyone of us faces fears, doubts, depressions, and anxiety. But not every once of us has the courage to move beyond them. It is only those that do that are considered courageous.

Without courage all other virtues would be obsolete and fail to exist. Passion, humility, honorability, integrity, truth, confidence, strength, and compassion to name a few. It takes courage to display these on a day-to-day basis. It’s hard, it’s real hard.

Winston Churchill called courage the first human quality because it is the quality which guarantees all others. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to become the person you truly want to become. To be the person you really want to be you will most certainly face fears, hardships, doubters, and those trying to keep you down. We often get so wrapped up in all the ways that things can go wrong that we forget about all the ways that things can go right. It takes courage to shift your mindset. It takes courage to find your way and to be true to yourself and discover your virtues… A whole sh*t ton of it.

Exercise it often

Practice courage often. Constantly display it by trying new things, being unique, or tackling a fear. Big challenges produce big courage but small ones every so often maintain its strength. Make a list of what scares you.

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Are you in a relationship but scared to commit (no, not me :) ), afraid to bungee jump, want to learn how to dance, try a Crossfit class, sell your car to start your own business? Make a list, a long list of everything thing that scares you and slowly tackle each one by one. Start small and build up. Just like exercising a muscle exercise your courage. The more often you do so the stronger it will get and the more confidence you will build to tackle bigger and bigger challenges.

Accept anguish

Lets get this out in the open right now. When you display courage you are taking a risk and acknowledging the fact that something could go wrong. Accept it and display the courage it takes to move on. Find temporary and specific causes for why things may have gone array. Remind yourself that any pain, discomfort, or stress is only temporary and related to this event only. Believe that you are more often than not the cause of good and positive outcomes and that the decisions you make and actions you take more often than not lead to results that represent your virtues.

Courage is not invincible

Displaying courage does not mean you are invincible. It is common to display courage and still have fears and self-doubt. If you’re married think about that decision. If you have kids, quit a job to start you own, or have ever given a presentation if front of a large crowd.

The decision to tackle those challenges does not mean you will not have doubts. You may make decisions and seriously doubt if they are the right ones. The decision itself is not where courage lies but instead it is in the ability to face those self-doubts and to decide what you will do once faced with them.

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How committed are you to displaying courage

Rollo May in his book “The Courage to Create” shares a wonderful analogy.

The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day by day. These decisions require courage.

How committed are you to living an optimal life? Often when we think about the commitment it may take to get their we get scared. Unlike the acorn or the kitten we are guaranteed anything in life so every decision we make is faced with the possibility that it may not work out as expected. Do you have the courage to face those possibilities head on with the reward being your optimal life?

Each one of us is here for a purpose. We all have unique gifts to share with this world, to ourselves, and to others. Do you have the courage to discover those gifts and share them?

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Look for the flashing neon sign

The decision to be courageous can be made very easy for you and much of the risks associated with it can be dissolved. Life has a funny way of hinting at us what we should be doing. If you’re tired all the time it’s telling you to rest. If you are overweight it’s telling you to start exercising and eat better, if you are unhappy it’s telling you you’re doing things not aligned with your virtues, and if you’re happy, healthy, and full of life it’s telling you to keep doing what you’re doing fool and don’t let anything get in your way.

Keep your eyes open. When are you at your happiest, healthiest, and most energized? You may find multiple outlets but that’s life’s way of telling you what you need to be doing more of.

It takes courage to be you – Look around, the world has a mold for us. There is a laundry list of things “we are supposed to do” by a certain time and in a certain way. There’s an assembly line we are all on with the same mold coming down quickly on each of us. It takes courage to get up, leave some behind, and make your own mold.

So if you are a dancer – dance.
If you are a painter – paint.
And if you are a writer – write.

It doesn’t make much sense to be anything else but you and it doesn’t take much courage either.

Featured photo credit: o ponto de vista de Felix Baumgartner pouco antes do salto que  via Flickr

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Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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