I was thinking today about New Zealand’s courageous athletes who will shortly head off to Rio de Janeiro to represent our country. Their individual journeys will have involved many acts of mental and physical courage and they will continue to draw on these in the challenging weeks ahead. Aristotle said, ‘you will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.’ So what is courage really?
Dr. Lisa Dungate, a parenting coach, describes six types of courage. http://www.lionswhiskers.com/p/six-types-of-courage.html Here are Dr. Dungate’s six definitions matched with quotes from six individuals renowned for their courage.
Physical courage: Bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. Gilbert K Chesterton
Social courage: The risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection. It also involves leadership.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. Nelson Mandela
Intellectual courage. This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to take the risk of making mistakes.
To save the world requires faith in reason and the courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true. Bertrand Russell
Moral courage. This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.
It is easy to stand with the crowd, it takes courage to stand alone. Mahatma Gandhi
Emotional courage. This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.
Avoiding vulnerable feelings because you are afraid of them is an irrational fear. Courage is facing your uncomfortable feelings. Lynne Namka
Spiritual courage. This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework.
Accepting that life is insane, that bad things happen to good people, and that you can find the courage to be grateful for the good in every situation and still move forward, is hard (even terrifying) but heroic. Richie Norton
We all have opportunities to be courageous and we can all bear witness to and acknowledge the courage of others. A life in which we are inspired by others who act with courage, and in turn inspire others to act with courage, is a life well-lived.
So how courageous are you? Try this quiz from The Listener