Cultivating courage is an essential process in the journey towards living your full life. It takes courage to discover (and live) who you are.
I define courage as having a strong enough of a mind to act in times of challenge, pain, or anxiety despite fear. Not in the absence of fear… but despite it.
We currently live in a society with a courage deficit.
Anything that was once difficult has now been streamlined for us to avoid the ‘icky’ parts of life.
Hungry for protein? The animal comes pre-packaged for you. Want a girlfriend? Don’t worry about approaching women… online dating sites have your back.
But just as your physical muscles weaken from lack of use, your courage muscles get soft if you aren’t intentionally challenging them.
Here are five ways to help you in cultivating courage for your life…
1. Take Cold Showers
In certain circles, the benefits of cold showers have already been harped on. Physical health benefits aside, taking cold showers increases your courage on a daily basis.
Your mind will initially resist stepping head first into a seemingly hostile jet of cold water first thing in the morning, but as with the way most fears go, the more you step in the more you will grow (and learn that it isn’t as bad as you thought it would be).
2. Approach Women
Regardless of your current or long-term goals when it comes to your dating life, it is my firm belief that one of the fastest ways to cultivate courage in your life is becoming adept at approaching people that you are attracted to and starting conversations with them.
Start off by doing simple things like asking them for the time or directions, and slowly move up to doling out compliments or having extended conversations. This habit, when consciously cultivated, will pay dividends for your courage.
3. Be Assertive In Uncomfortable Social Situations
It’s all too easy to sweep the dirt under the rug when it comes to social tension… but too much ignored dirt makes your house start to smell (I like metaphors… a lot. I have a problem).
Whether it’s a co-worker who took credit for one of your ideas, an ex spreading malicious lies about you, or a strained relationship between you and one of your parents, facing up to social tension by having difficult conversations works wonders for cultivating courage.
It’s easy to not make tough decisions and live life the hard way, and it’s hard to make those decisions and then earn the courage to live life the easy way. Step up. It’s not nearly as difficult as you’re telling yourself it is. And it’s always worth it.
4. Follow Your Fears
This past January I kicked off the new year by writing down a list of all of the things that I most deeply feared for one reason or another, and then committed to doing all of those things within the next six months.
I feared autonomy, losing my hometown roots, the depths of the ocean, and heights… so I packed up my bags and traveled methodically around the world to go rock climbing, scuba diving, and anywhere else that would challenge me.
Was I scared? Terrified. But I did it. And I came out stronger on the other side.
Write down a list of things that you fear – and charge through them. Do you fear public speaking? Sign up for Toastmasters or lead a Meetup.com group meeting. Afraid of rejection? Go out and approach ten cute girls and realize that people are a lot friendlier than you might think. Afraid of heights? Visit an indoor rock climbing gym for practice.
5. Surround Yourself With People That Motivate You
We become the average of the five people we spend the most time around. If your friends are constantly bitching about their lives, and not challenging themselves in any way, then you need to cut ties as soon as possible.
Find people that you admire and add value to their lives until they have no choice but to be your friend. Get around mentors (even if you have to pay them) that scare you a little bit. The only “right” way to go about this is to choose the path that gets you around high-value role models as soon as possible.
I have had trainers in business, life, fitness, combat, and sexuality that I thought were all just a little bit too intense for me… but it was exactly this intensity that I lacked in those areas of my life that I wanted to learn from. So if you meet a coach or mentor that seems a little bit too out there, that’s a sure sign that they’re the right one for you.
As one of my mentors once taught me, “Seek, ask, and knock” until you have these people in your life. We, as humans, learn by proximity. So get out there and fill your life with epic role models.
Go For It
There will always be things that you feel fear or anxiety around. Allow these things to be the guide for what you should be challenging next in your life.
You have the opportunity to consciously expand your comfort zone every day with the choices that you make.
This is your life, and it expands or contracts to the degree that you decide to face your fears and push yourself.
Dedicated to your courageous success,
Ps. The photo at the top of the page is a shot of me ziplining over the downtown core of my hometown during the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’m still afraid of heights, but I taught my mind that I’m not as fragile as I sometimes tell myself I am.