Courage, hope, and vulnerability are doorways to the heart. Learn how to live from the heart, have fewer regrets and more victorious memories.
Living from the heart makes all the difference between a mundane existence a life of fulfillment. To do this, we must learn how to live lives of courage, hope, and vulnerability.
What is Courage?
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage 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”. Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.”
The Cost of Courage
One way to think of courage is that it’s like a financial transaction. An act of courage is like buying stocks or bonds. You don’t know if the investment will pay off. And, just with any financial transaction the more risk, the greater the potential return.
To paraphrase Brené Brown, courage is action when the outcome is uncertain involves personal risk and emotional exposure. Additionally, the action will always draw negative criticism even if the results are positive. Courage takes a certain level of hope. Hope is the expectation that a future outcome will be successful. Hope does not guarantee success. It provides the focus needed for you to undertake the action.
Our culture doesn’t want us to rock the boat. It doesn’t want courageous people. It wants followers and consumers. Therefore, the cultural narrative wants us to fill our lives with entertainment. It does not want us engaging directly with social concerns. It’s why it’s important to question the cultural narrative.
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. Yes, it’s scary, and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”
— Brené Brown
Action Despite the Odds
Guess what, more often than not courageous actions fail. That’s because if the outcome is probable, then there is no need for courage. You don’t need courage or hope when there is little or no risk. If you are certain of the outcome and there’s no personal risk, then it’s an ordinary choice.
The problem for our society is when people make choices which put other people at risk. This is ruthlessness, which is the absence of ruth. It comes from the uncommon noun ruth. Ruth means “compassion for the misery of another”. So, someone makes choices with only profit as a measure they are ruthless. They do not consider the risk to others or the environment as important as money.
So, courage is only necessary if the probable outcome is likely to fail. Courage comes not out of strength but out of hope and vulnerability. It doesn’t take courage to act if the outcome is likely. And, this is especially true when the risk of failure is low, or there is little emotional exposure. However, it takes courage and vulnerability to take action when there’s a lot to lose. Courage, hope, and vulnerability are all part of the same decision.
Most people play it safe and take as few risks as possible. As a result, they are the ones with the most regrets. They are the ones who miss opportunities. The safety of risk avoidance is like living in a grave. It’s just that they haven’t put the dirt in yet. However, living from the heart gives life meaning. Yes. That means taking calculated risks if you have time to think. Or, following your heart and rushing into a burning building to save a life.
Live From The Heart
Living from the heart does not mean taking unnecessary risks. Nor does it mean living a life of excess. In contrast, it means living out of virtues of the spirit. The virtues of the spirit enable us to live, In Spirit. Living “In Spirit” is the root of inspiration.
The cultural narrative does not want us to live from the heart. This does not make us good followers or consumers. As our awareness opens, we see through the blindfold of the cultural narrative. And, so we start asking the right questions. We become a healthy skeptic and start questioning the inconsistencies and fallacies of organized religion.
Hope and Faith Hijacked
Western organized religion is effective in hijacking the terms, Hope and Faith. For example, Western religion defines faith as belief in something for which there is no proof. On the contrary, faith means to have complete trust in something. So, it doesn’t apply to religious mythology at all. However, if you mention the term faith most people associate it with Western religion and their definition.
Hope is another word we often associate with religion. Here Western religion ties hope to prayer. Prayer is the request of intervention by a higher power. Whereas, hope is the expectation that something will happen. Another good job of hijacking a term to infuse it with religious bias.
Faith, Hope, and Business
Because of the religious connotations of the terms faith and hope, they are taboo in the corporate world. It doesn’t want to associate itself with religion. However, both hope and faith are the elements which motivate and engage people.
Hope and faith underpin all workplace initiatives. The goal of every initiative is a positive outcome. People need to have confidence in a probable outcome to support initiatives. So, to avoid the association with religious terms, you substitute “planned outcome” for hope. And, you substitute “confidence” for faith.
Brené Brown talks about how vulnerability and courage are part of the same animal. Vulnerability starts with being vulnerable with our feelings. Spontaneous acts of courage are often the result of some an unforeseen event.
An emergency arises. Someone acts immediately seemingly without a thought for their safety. One of two things is happening. Either they were in touch with their heart or their actions result from training or programming.
The programming could be practical lifesaving education. Or, the programming may come from their value of human life. In either case, they place themselves in a vulnerable situation. Vulnerability is a risk. Risky actions become acts of courage when it supports the values of the culture.
It’s important to remember that what the culture deems appropriate changes with time. A soldier risks his life to save another person. Are his actions heartfelt vulnerability, or training. Or, is it a mix of both? It is easy to see how courage, vulnerability and risk overlap. These three elements are evidence of living from the heart.
Virtues of the Spirit
When we open the heart center is open, we also access the virtues of the spirit. These help us face our inner fears.
“Gratitude, Love, Appreciation, Serenity, Joyfulness, Happiness, Thankfulness, Blissfulness, and Mindfulness; these are the virtues of the spirit. With these tools, we are able to conquer … not the world, but ourselves. And, so then … the world does not need to be conquered.” — Guru Tua
To live a life of courage, hope and vulnerability we must live from the heart center. This also makes us more aware. Greater awareness also means we can see what others try to hide. If we learn to illuminate our heart, we must also oppose injustice. If we are silent, this makes us a party to the injustice. So, it’s important to guard our hearts against racial, ethnic, gender, religious bias and prejudice.
When we speak up and take action it’s risky. It makes us vulnerable. But, when we speak out and expose injustice there is hope it will lead to a positive resolution. When groups of people become aware and speak out, this becomes a movement. The cultural narrative aims to keep this from happening.
When you live out courage, hope, and vulnerability to you will create a life of value for yourself and others. You will have a positive impact on the world. However, chances are you won’t be popular or a celebrity. People will call you names, a heretic, or humanist. In fact, if this is happening this is a good sign you are pushing against the cultural narrative. Keep up the good work. The world needs more people like this.