The mental picture I have for courage is someone doing something grand - like saving a life or fighting fires. Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” The “or” in this definition sticks out to me. Courage is not just about life-and-death dangers.
Brené Brown addresses courage in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” making the argument that courage at its root is about “speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad)…Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line” (12-13).
My reflexive reaction is to deny courage as a description of myself. If I only conceptualize courage as life-and-death circumstances, (thankfully I have not had to face life-and-death circumstances) I have not had to be courageous in that sense of the word.
But, if I adopt Brené Brown’s conceptualization, I have to courageously accept and acknowledge my own courage. I have spoken honestly and openly about who I am, maybe not all the time, but I have. And if I tease apart the Merriam-Webster definition, I have persevered through difficulties. If we all take a moment, we all have spoken honestly at some point in our lives, and have all persevered through difficulties.
I think Brené Brown is right - courage happens every day. I hope we can all learn to acknowledge our own courage and the courage in others.