Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

When we think of courage we often think of heroes.  Firefighters rushing into a burning building to save a child, soldiers rescuing their comrades trapped by enemy fire, someone jumping into a freezing river to rescue someone from drowning.  These images are vivid; the people are inspiring.  We consider them heroes and wonder whether under similar circumstances we would have the courage to act similarly.  For most of us, these images define courage.  And by comparison, most of would not describe ourselves as courageous.

Not everyone is a hero as exemplified in the foregoing examples, but everyone can be courageous.  Courage lies within us all, just as integrity and love.  We can tap into it and manifest it in our lives as we confront the daily travails of living in a complex world.  Courage is what allows us to overcome adversity, whether in the form of physical illness, social injustice, poverty, acts of mother nature, violence, emotional and psychological traumata, unemployment, and a myriad other issues with which we must cope during the course of our lives.  Some people deal with these issue with strength and determination while others choose to withdraw, hide, give up and fall into despair.  Courage is inside of us; courage requires living inside out.

I have often wondered why some people when confronted with adversity find a way to overcome, work through, work around, or work over, while others retreat, hide and give up.  Let’s take a look at a few notable examples:  a homeless man, spends months penniless, living in his car and rises up to become the famous actor, director, producer Tyler Perry;  a woman is on welfare raising a child, on the brink of homelessness, and becomes the world-renown author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling; a man lose two legs and tries out for the Olympics; another loses three limbs in the war in Iraq and learns to play tennis from a wheel chair with one arm; another suffers a stroke and becomes paralyzed throughout his body with the exception of being able to blink one eye and write a book using that one good eye to signal the letters of the alphabet writing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly;  and Superman, the actor Christopher Reeve, paralyzed from the next down outlives his doctors predictions, directs a movie, and argues before congress for stem cell research.  These people can tap into their human potential, their courage, fight the odds and live lives of purpose, while others with far less to confront pull the covers over their heads and retreat into despair.

Many people define themselves by their physical prowess, their ability to accomplish; a musician identifies with his physical dexterity on the piano, a surgeon identifies with his surgical skill, an athlete with her physical prowess.  It is similar to those who identify with their wealth.  When they can no longer perform, they have no sense of self, life loses its meaning.  These people live life outside in.

And then there are the ordinary people living all around us who confront their lives daily with courage and dignity.  The inner city single mother with two or more children who wakes up every morning, gets her children off to school, holds down two jobs, and manages to keep the family together; or the man who buries his wife of forty years, loses his job to ageism, who faces his loneliness by volunteering at a local homeless shelter where he makes a difference in the lives of others.  These people are those next door, down the street, in our cities both urban and rural, who despite the odds face their lives with courage.

Courage is that little voice within us that says, “you can do this.”  It a sense of inner resilience that knows no other way than to survive, push forward, do whatever is necessary to fulfill their potential, one step and a time, one day at time.  Courage is not only found in those dramatic events of our lives, but in the everyday occurrences the affect our lives on a regular basis.

Courage is a character trait that lies dormant in each of us; we are unaware of its presence.  Just as the men and women who perform heroic acts or acts of bravery, would not call themselves heroes or consider themselves brave, most of us would not think of ourselves as courageous.  If we think of it at all, we say we are just living our lives, playing the hand we were dealt one card at a time.

[This post has been excerpted from my newest book, LIVING YOUR LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT, and can be found on Amazon.com with my other four books.  Profits from book sales will be donated to Make A Wish Foundation and Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs.]