Choosing to be courageous

“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” — Sir Winston Churchill 

It takes a certain amount of courage to work on handstands — especially for an older gal like me. Mostly because there’s that darn fear of falling and breaking something important. (Or in my case, slicing open a foot and needing stitches.) But it’s also the fact that doing a handstand is difficult — at least for the average person — and taking on a new difficulty is not something most people choose to do. Especially in our everyday lives. We may take on a difficult task at work because it’s part of our job and we’re required to do it. But what about things that are difficult that we aren’t obligated to do? Isn’t life simpler if we choose not to do them?

I would argue that it’s the everyday challenges we choose to overcome that are the most important. If nothing else, because they’re a choice. We choose to work hard and muster up the courage to face something that we know we want or should do, and push aside our fears to make it happen. I also believe that overcoming these challenges by choice makes it easier to conquer the ones that are forced upon us. How prepared can we be for unexpected challenges that life throws at us if we never master the ones we’ve intentionally chosen?

Dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.” I know for a fact that fear can eat us up if we let it. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of making a mistake. All legitimate fears, of course, but maybe even worse is the fear of physical pain. You know, the kind that comes from falling?

My friend Rebecca recently posted about a nasty fall she took while running trails. Falling is scary and once it happens, it takes some serious self talking to make yourself go back for what might be a repeat incident. But she did it — several times in fact. Not only did she get up and run immediately after the fall, but the very next day she packed up her courage and hit that same trail again! Most people would have been content with telling the story of how they fell running trails one day, using that incident as explanation for why they never ran again. Rebecca wasn’t running as part of her job, or for a prize, and she certainly didn’t have to go back to the same trail where she fell. But she did it anyway. She writes, “What else are we all living for except second chances?”

She’s right. Fortunately, Rebecca didn’t injure herself, but I’m pretty sure that if she had, she would have been back on the trail once she recovered, taking that second chance. Because she has courage. The courage to get back up, even though she fell. The courage to share her story with others even though it might have been embarrassing. The courage to take up trail running in the first place, even though it would have been safer staying at home and sitting on the couch.  

But courage isn’t just for physical challenges like running or handstanding. It’s also the quality of mind to take action — stand up to a bully, confront a bad boss, or not back down from something you know is right. Sometimes, finding courage requires taking a deep breath, throwing caution to the wind, and making a leap of faith that even though what you’re doing is scary, it will all be worth it in the end. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. And yes, even if you fall.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share with others if you like what I wrote.

I still have to muster up courage to do this handstand drill — but I do it anyway because I know I need it!

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