Over the past few years, I’ve been embracing Courageous Living. During this process, I have realized that the word courage means different things to different people in various phases of their lives. For example, when I was in my 20s, I wanted to bungee jump. That exuded courage to me at that time in my life. Now, I have no desire to do such a thing!
So the big question I’m being asked lately is this…What is Courageous Living?
To me, Courageous Living means having the courage to be yourself. This means having enough self-confidence to set up boundaries and standards in your life around things that are important to you—like your time, your happiness, and your relationships.
When I got super clear on the boundaries and standards I wanted to live by, I became more courageous. It’s that simple. I didn’t have to jump off a 10 story building, or cross a raging river in a flimsy raft. Because I know where I stand in life, I now know how to interact and communicate with people when they cross my threshold or my line. This too takes courage.
I’ve come to realize there are several pieces that make up Courageous Living—or living a lifestyle that you unapologetically create and love.
The first one is presence. Presence is a practice, and when you’re present, you are connected with how you’re feeling. You are tuned into your emotional, mental, and physical states. However, you can only be present if you’re not acting like a robot—a concept I talk about a lot. The majority of the population is just running around like little robots. We need to stop and be present.
Courageous Living is also about making your own rules and living life by those rules. You have to have boundaries and standards. Being courageous in life has a lot to do with pursuing your passion and playing. There is magic in play. There is creativity in play. When I realized that I needed to incorporate more play and creativity into my life, I started taking Fridays off this year.
I now work Monday through Thursday. Wow! Do you know how much happier my life has become by just adding one more day a week to be creative and play? Whether it’s checking out a new museum in New York City or meeting a friend at a hot new spot for lunch or going to the spa—I am spending three out of seven days each week, playing!
Courageous Living allows us time to explore, and I think that putting more play into our daily lives takes tons of courage. Do you know why? We’ve been taught that you should work, work, work. You should work Monday through Friday. Then you should do housework and chores on the weekend. You should work 40-plus hours a week. Our society is great at working people to death!
All of these teachings have been ingrained into our brains, and it takes courage to get rid of these false ideas.
And sometimes, that means you have to have hard conversations with the people you love, and let them know what you need and expect from them, if they are to remain in your life.
My husband and I were in England over the summer, and I woke up one day to a very long, disturbing message from my mother in my Facebook inbox. We’re very close, but basically, she was upset about something I had reposted about the vegan lifestyle.
I’m a vegan, my family is not. They don’t get it at all—and that’s perfectly okay, because being a vegan is MY decision. My mother was upset and you could tell from her words and phrasing that she had just been hammering on the keys. Basically, her message was that she did not agree with what I had reposted, and that I was out-of-line for believing so much of what I believe about the vegan lifestyle.
Well, you can imagine how this went down. I took a deep breath and messaged her back. I told her that Facebook was for me to post what I wanted to post, when I wanted to post it, and that if she didn’t like it, she could unfollow me. I also let her know that if she wrote another opinionated message telling me what I should and should not believe, I would block her from my seeing my account.
She apologized immediately. She knew she had crossed the line, but it took me a long time to get to this point where I could express myself in such a way; to not let people walk on me by infusing their own opinions into my life and psyche.
The good news is that my mother and I patched things up rather quickly. I didn’t feel guilty about expressing my boundaries. To date, she hasn’t made one comment about the vegan lifestyle. When I traveled home last month to visit, for the first time in years, my mother made an effort to go shopping for all my special foods before I arrived.
This is progress, but it took me standing up for myself and creating boundaries in our relationship. This is one small example, but I think it illustrates a very big point: the biggest misconception people have about courage is that you have to do something adventurous and crazy, like bungee jumping off a mountain. It just isn’t so.
Are you ready to live a more courageous life? A life where you love every single day, unapologetically, where you create your own happiness, and where you stand up for yourself and educate others how you will, and will not, be treated? A life where you take more time to play, explore, and be creative? If so, the courage can be found within you—and it all starts with being present and knowing what you stand for in life.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
It took me a while to learn to say no–and to get rid of the guilt associated with that–but I’m good now!
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I appreciate that I take time to reflect on my goals and where I want to go in life. I do this daily. It’s important to check-in with yourself!
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
I’m getting ready to travel to India to volunteer, and I can’t wait. I’ve dreamed about doing this for a very long time!
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
Lately I’ve been working on having more empathy and trying to see things from other people’s perspectives.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel
empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my life!