Call to Courage

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, we turned to Transcendence to step back from the rush of our daily lives and gain a broader perspective. Transcendence forges connection to something larger than ourselves and provides a sense of meaning and purpose in our worlds (1).

I hope you took my invitation to turn toward Transcendence and engaged your Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, or Spirituality last week. If so, what did you discover? Did you notice a sense of comfort, peace, awe, inspiration, and/or motivation as you engaged your strength of Transcendence?

This week, I am called to Courage. It is our sixth and final virtue category of the VIA character strengths to explore. So, let's dive in! The VIA identifies Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, and Zest as potential pathways to Courage. These strengths work inwardly and outwardly to help us overcome fear and impact our thoughts, emotions, motivations, and actions (1). Courage calls us to act and can take many forms. Courage is also context specific and highly individual. A courageous step for you may not be courageous for someone else. It all depends on personal fears and insecurities. Courage helps you rise and take action in the face of fear.

What makes you Courageous?

Bravery is considered a phasic strength. This means that it is most often used when an opportunity presents itself. Folks who are high in Bravery voluntarily rise to the occasion in difficult situations and attempt to do good works (1). They do not shrink in moments of threat, pain, or challenge. We tend envision Bravery as folks who are physically brave like firefighters, police officers, soldiers, or heroes. Yet, Bravery manifests in three different ways: physical, psychological, and/or moral. Bravery also helps us speak up for what is right despite opposition and/or act in accordance with personal convictions. If you would like to develop your strength of Bravery, you could identify an area in which you generally shy away from confrontations and make a plan to help you effectively confront the situation next time you encounter it. Alternatively, you could resist peer-pressure and speak up for an unpopular idea you support in a group or dare to be different and positive (3).

Bravery’s Motto: Face what you are afraid of.

Do you work hard to finish what you start? If so, Perseverance may be a strength of yours. Folks who are high in Perseverance work to finish projects in a timely fashion. They are not easily distracted and enjoy completing tasks. Perseverance requires persistence in both the effort to accomplish a task and the motivation to keep the task up. It means that you choose to continue goal-directed actions despite challenge or adversity (1). It takes courage to persist in the face of challenge. If this sounds like you, I invite you to set five small goals next week and monitor your progress as you achieve each one. You might enjoy keeping a “To Do” list or my personal favorite an “I did it!” list that you update daily. Alternatively, you could think of someone you admire for their perseverance and generate ideas about how you can follow in their footsteps to increase your personal perseverance (3).

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Perseverance’s Motto: Don't Give Up.

If you are high in Honesty, you speak the truth and value living your life in a genuine way. Others consider you a ‘real’ person and you are straightforward, down to earth, and without pretense. You live in alignment with your values and beliefs. You’re authentic and accurately represent your emotions, intentions, and behaviors both internally and externally (1). If Honesty feels like your pathway to Courage, monitor yourself the next time you are asked for advice and give constructive, direct, and authentic feedback. If you’d rather, you could track and refrain from small white lies with friends and family. If you happen to catch yourself in a lie (even a small one or one of omission), admit it and apologize for it right away (3).

Honesty’s Motto: Tell people the truth, (almost) all the time.

Zest is yet another pathway to Courage. Zesty folks approach all experiences with excitement and energy (1). They do not believe in doing anything halfheartedly and consider life an adventure. A dynamic strength, Zest is also considered vitality and is directly related to your physical and psychological wellness. Yet, Zest is not just about the energy you put out into the world, it is also about how you manage your energy internally. This strength has the strongest ties to overall life satisfaction and engagement (1). If Zest is authentic to you, why not commit to rigorous exercise three times this week, work to establish regular sleep hours and notice the changes in your energy level, or take time to celebrate the next victory or success of yourself or a loved one with enthusiasm (3).

Zest’s Motto: When in doubt, take action!

So, what makes you Courageous?

This week, I continue to invite you to take action in the face of fear. Answer your call to Courage and engage your Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, or Zest in an authentic way. If the action opportunities above don’t speak to you, create your own and take the next meaningful step to courage.

I hope you accept this call to Courage, and I look forward to seeing you next week as we take a deeper dive into strengths and continue the conversation.

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Peterson C, Seligman M. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol 1). Oxford University Press; 2004.

2. Polly S, Britton K, Maymin S. (Eds.). Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Positive Psychology News, LLC; 2015.

3. Rashid T, Anjum A. 340 ways to use VIA character strengths. Unpublished manuscript; 2005.

4. Wedding D, Niemiec R. Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe; 2008.

* Special thanks to viacharacter.org for the Character Strength Mottos