20 definitions of courage from hope is not a plan

In early 2020, I helped organize a series of discussions entitled Hope Is Not A Plan. The facilitated discussions on death and dying were based on the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. In the sixth and final session, we talked about courage.

In Chapter 8 of Being Mortal, Gawande writes:

“No one ever really has control. Physics and biology and accident ultimately have their way in our lives. But the point is that we are not helpless either. Courage is the strength to recognize both realities.”

As the session facilitator, I invited the Hope Is Not a Plan participants to share their own definitions of courage. Here’s what they said:

  1. Feeling fear and doing that which makes you feel fearful despite your fear
  2. Reality-based and factual and doing what needs to be done; facing reality
  3. Facing things head-on and admitting when you’re wrong
  4. Doing what we don’t want to do
  5. Waking up and expressing gratitude
  6. Open-hearted willingness to step into the unknown
  7. Not being paralyzed by fear, and detaching from the outcome
  8. Taking action on an issue that you don’t want to deal with
  9. Being steadfast in adversity
  10. Staying calm, being brave, waiting for the signs
  11. Making a decision when you don’t want to make one
  12. Knowing what to be afraid of
  13. Doing what you want to do in the face of potential disapproval of others
  14. Looking at calculated risks and then acting
  15. Trusting in God and proceeding without worry
  16. Defeating fear; courage is the opposite of fear
  17. Courage transforms fear into hope
  18. Doing the right thing
  19. Fighting to change and not backing down
  20. Speaking from the heart and telling one’s heart (per Brené Brown) thus:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” ~ Brené Brown

I thought the definitions worth sharing, and so I have.

© 2020 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry and posts widely, but please do not reprint, reblog or copy and paste them in their entirety without my permission. Thank you.

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