Blog: Where does courage come from?

Think for a moment about the forces of nature. Visible forces of nature (tides, hurricanes and volcanoes) are dwarfed by the more subtle, invisible powers of nature, such as gravity, nuclear forces and magnetism.

The same is true for the mind. The visible forces of the mind — hatred, envy, revenge and anger — are extremely weak in front of the quiet, but stronger powers of gratitude, compassion, acceptance and forgiveness.

Your greatest strength lies in harnessing and aligning with the stronger forces. In the short term, revenge may seem like a strong force, but in the long term, it is forgiveness that gives you greater strength. Uncontrolled anger may seem to offer the most energy because it looks like pure adrenaline, but it is actually compassion that unlocks the greatest energy. Often, it's not easy to realize these differences. This is where courage comes in and helps you realize the natural forces that can help you the most.

Courage doesn't decimate fear; courage means that you act despite the fear. Courage activates the part of the brain that mentors and quiets your brain's fear center. Courage doesn't make you completely fearless, which is good — having no fear risks putting you in harm's way. But it does help you overcome fear.

Where do you find courage? Of the thousands of people I've talked to, three themes have emerged when they've talked about courageous people in their personal lives:

  1. Courageous people often find great meaning in helping their fellow beings.
  2. Courageous people have good role models, whose principles they try to follow.
  3. Many courageous people find great courage from their faith.

Taken together, these three themes help people lead lives driven by passion and meaning rather than by fear. These three themes are connected by one idea: that most people who have an abundance of courage also live by these higher values:

  • Compassion and forgiveness
  • Higher meaning and selflessness
  • Patience and contentment

They protect these values, and in turn, these values help power their courage.

All of these values provide strength to anyone who lives to protect them. These values can't be destroyed. If you become their temporary custodian, you become indestructible in the process.

May you feel strong and brave because of the values you protect.