Courage - What Is It and How Do You Cultivate It?

Courage – what is it and how do you know if you have it? These are questions that we contemplate when we hear of someone else doing something that was perceived as courageous. Wikipedia defines courage as: bravery, boldness, fearlessness, courage in the face of physical hardship, pain, death, threat of death and the ability to "do the right thing” in the face of popular opposition.

So, given the definition of courage - would we respond courageously if a situation called for it? Courage is a trait we all hope we have. But how do we know if we possess it? None of us really knows how we would respond in a crisis until we are faced with it. We all hope and pray that we would do the right thing. So, what’s my point? Where am I going with this line of thought? Here it is: I believe all of us are courageous.

I believe we all have the right stuff to act courageously when the situation calls for it. I think we are all born with innate courage – it is our natural way of being. OK, think about this: we are all born. Just take a moment and think about that process. Got a visual? That, my friends takes courage on both the new little beings part and the parents. I can’t begin to imagine what the baby is going through as he or she is being born but it has to be a wee bit uncomfortable – don’t you think? This being has made the decision to incarnate in human form which guarantees some level of pain and suffering. It takes courage to want to come here. And then, when we think about it from the parents’ perspective – it takes courage to not only go through the process of birthing but also to raise another human to adulthood. The responsibility is tremendous and they don’t come with an owner’s manual. Children are wonderful and they bring a new dimension to the word "love”, they are loved unconditionally and that is a good thing. However, for those of you who have kids – it took lots of courage to take the leap into parenthood.

For those of you who are still not convinced that we are born with courage, here is another example. If you have ever been in a long term relationship – married or not, it took courage. You partnered yourself with another being. There was no way of knowing if it would work out. Each of you had or has your own agenda for the relationship. Both of you were raised in families that probably had some of the same values but more than not, there were values that were different. You have to learn to compromise all the while learning how to "be” in relationship. Your listening skills become more accentuated to your partners needs. You had to learn to give your opinions in a way that didn’t hurt the other person. I’m sure, you get the picture. There is a lot of work that goes into a relationship and yet most of us do it, given the opportunity. We take the giant leap of faith and partner with another person. That takes plenty of courage. We have no idea if the relationship will last or if it does last, will be still be in love with each other at the end of life.

There are so many instances in our lives that call for courage and we – all of us – step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. Now that you know you are a courageous person, what do you do with it? Of coarse what you do with it is up to you, but here is what I suggest. The next time you have a goal you want to reach – go for it. When you feel that you want to make a change in your life – do it. When you need to tell someone "No” because something doesn’t feel right inside – say it. When others tell you that your goals are stupid and not worth working for – keep your eyes on the goal and just keep moving toward your goals. When the road seems long and your dreams seem far away – keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get to the finish line.

Use the courage that you already possess to believe in yourself. Only YOU can make YOU happy. Only YOU know what is best for YOU. Begin to listen to the small voice in your heart. That is your inner self talking to you. Let it be your guide through life. It’s like Dorothy said in "The Wizard OF Oz” to the lion – You already have all the courage you need inside of yourself. You too - already have everything inside of yourselves to reach any goal you set. So, what are you waiting for – you wonderfully courageous person? Go and create the life you dream of having.

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