“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort,
but you cannot have both.”
– Brené Brown
I do not think of myself as a very courageous person. The problem, as I see it, is that I am really quite comfortable. I own my home; I have plenty to eat, drink, and wear; and I possess more than enough “toys.” I live in a city that’s relatively clean and safe, and I belong to a loving and welcoming spiritual community.
But if I’m so comfortable, then why do I feel so dissatisfied?
The Path of COURAGE, this month’s congregational theme, calls upon us to step up and step out. The folks at Soul Matters tell us that often, “the enemy of courage is not fear but our comfort zones.” Among the small steps they suggest I engage in for getting out of my comfort zone are some very simple actions, such as:
calling a friend or relative I’ve lost contact with
learning a new skill
going out to the movies or dinner solo
attending an event where I don’t know anyone (and talking to at least five people).
When I’m ready for something more challenging, the suggestions include:
speaking in front of a group on a subject I am passionate about
taking a class in something I don’t think I have any talent for
learning to plaa new musical instrument
performing in a karaoke bar.
(For a complete list of Courageous, Anti-Comfort Zone Actions, click here.)
Yes, it can indeed be painful to turn off the TV, get up from that comfy couch, and take a courageous risk, but it’s likely to be worth it. Author Marianne Williamson says, “It takes courage … to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” And yes, self-discovery can definitely be risky and possibly painful. Are we brave enough to speak our truth to the world, even if it’s not popular? “Next time,” Audre Lorde suggests, “ask: What’s the worse that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. … [Y]ou will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. … [O]nly one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking it.” And Garrison Keillor reminds us, “It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.”
I look around outside my personal comfort zone and see a world that’s hurting, desperately in need of my attention … and yours. The election news is truly scary. And then there’s climate change to consider. Ukraine is suffering through a terrible war that’s growing increasingly intense. But wait: there’s more, and more. It’s all so overwhelming that I settle back into my sofa and live in hope, because I feel helpless to bring about any kind of positive change, no matter how small. But hope doesn’t really get anything done. “What if hope isn’t what leads to action?” writes Mary Annaïse Heglar. “What if courage is what leads to action and hope is what comes next?” So right now, I’m working on replacing hope with courage. Perhaps you can too.
One final thought:
Brené Brown reminds us that “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word 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.’”
May we all become more courageous, day by day, and heart by heart.
Seeking more inspiration and wisdom about The Path of COURAGE?