There are so many ways we hold ourselves back. We could be afraid of openly being part of the LGBTI community because of potential consequences and judgement from others. It could also be fully expressing our views, wearing what we want to wear, adorning our body with piercings and body art for the world to see.
Life changing events such as illness, accident, trauma or grief really make you reassess how you want to live your life moving forward. It takes a level of courage to step out from what you know to move into the unknown.
Someone I spoke with recently told me they lived a life of complacency before a life-changing experience. Everything was comfortable and they were happy to continue moving forward in life acquiring material possessions. They were quick to judge and had particular assumptions that were not necessarily correct (this was realised years later). Since their life altering experience, pretense has been tipped on its head. It took a life changing event for them to be shaken into awareness as to what living their best life looks life. It now has more meaning that doesn’t rely on material possessions to feel good, reaching work key performance indicators and keeping up with the Jones’s.
Positive psychologists Martin Seligman and (the late) Christopher Peterson co-created the Values in Action (VIA) Classification of character Strengths system back in the 1990s. Courage is included as one of the core virtues. They define courage as having ‘the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition’.
There is no doubt you will face opposition from wanting to shed your old skin and put on your new courage suit to bring about change. Your family and friends may not necessarily want you to change as it may also impact them. Life is challenging enough right, so don’t rock the status quo.
Strength and courage are required to face backlash in order to lead a life that is authentic to you. It’s not always going to be an easy path.
I invite you to reflect on what your best life could look like. Compare it to what you currently have. Are the lists radically different or are there some overlaps? If it’s the latter, that’s a great start. If they are radically different, then ask yourself why? Is there a way to start making changes to bring what you want into your life? It may mean some inner work is required along with some practical changes. Keep author JK Rowling in mind as a source of inspiration as you do this exercise. A single parent who struggled to make-ends-meet went from pretty close to being penniless to now having more wealth than she could ever imagine and the freedom to make choices.
The courage to live your life can be expressed in many ways. I want to share with you Martin Seligman’s PERMA model as it ultimately focuses on living a meaningful life.
P = positive emotions – Living life through gratitude, happiness, appreciation and joy. There are tools to help you with this if this is not your natural set point.
E = engagement and being in flow with your life, your work and creative activities. This is NOT about going with the flow or reacting to life. It is about immersion – with people, animals, nature, your work, activities and what you are doing in the moment.
R = positive relationships increase well being, positive emotions and social interaction which can then improve health and feeling stronger mentally and emotionally (especially when things get tough). It is also about taking attention away from yourself and towards others.
Toxic relationships are draining, block flow and the ability to flourish.
M= meaning. It comes down to this. If you chose to live your best life, is it one that gives you meaning? If it does, you will lead your best life. This will then influence all the above.
A = accomplishment. Focus on accomplishments that increase your well being and your ability to flourish.
May you find your courage to create and live your best life.