When we think of #courage, we often think of instances of heroism and daring bravery.
Stalwart soldiers repelling invaders from their homeland. Quick-thinking bystanders saving a child from drowning. Intrepid undercover agents working covertly to bring down dictatorial regimes.
These stunning acts of heroism certainly require courage, and there will always be a close connection between courage and physical bravery. But courage isn’t just about derring-do. Courage is also present–quietly, imperceptibly–whenever hard work and thankless tasks are required. Courage is there when someone stands up for an unpopular opinion that they believe is necessary and right. Courage is front and centre when essential workers show up every day to help others during a pandemic. Courage is responsible whenever someone looks illness, injury, hardship, or death straight in the eye and says, “I’m not afraid of you.”
Courage, according to #Stoicism, is “knowledge of how to distinguish between what is bad and what is not,” or “the science of what ought and ought not to be tolerated.” It includes “endurance, confidence, great-heartedness, stout-heartedness, love of work” and results in “constancy and vigour.” In other words, courage, in its fullest, richest sense, covers a broad range of daily human concerns. Courage touches us anytime we decide to do something difficult just because it’s the right thing to do. It spurs us on to help others when we might be reluctant or scared, and it teaches us both when we should speak up and when we should remain quiet.
It can be easy to overlook the important place for courage in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes courage seems more like a virtue that’s needed only every once in a while, when disaster strikes or in high-adrenaline situations. But the truth is, we need courage on a daily basis to help us make good choices.
Do we take the path of least resistance, for example, by going along with what everyone else is doing, or do we stand firm for what we think is right? Do we have the stamina to endure a difficult and demanding experience when it’s the right thing to do? These decisions extend into every area of life, from work to relationships to where we spend our time and money. When we are not afraid of hardship, we can dare to make choices that align with our values, regardless of the physical or social consequences.
Brittany Polat & Kathryn Koromilas 🌻, organisers of Courageous Paths to Flourishing. Join us on Saturday 1st October to learn how ancient #Stoic teachings and practices can help you become #courageous.