Courage, hope, compassion, and vulnerability are the doorways to the heart. Learn how to live from the heart, have fewer regrets and more victorious memories.
Living life from the heart is the goal. This enables us to live with courageous compassion while being vulnerable and keeping a positive and hopeful attitude.
We use a formula to express this aim. Courage, plus compassion, vulnerability, and hope equal fulfillment. You need all four elements: courage, compassion, hope, and vulnerability to achieve the goal of living a fulfilling life.
Living with Courage and Compassion
Most people have hope for better things. Some people are active in their quest for a better life. This often takes courage along with compassion because the culture places several barriers in the way. It also takes more than courage; and it takes hope and vulnerability.
It is hard to find people who exercise all four virtues, but they exist. Hard times bring them to the surface of the culture. In a crisis like a pandemic, they become easier to spot. They are positive, practical, and persistent in their approach. And they use common sense and logic. They resist getting sidetracked by unproven conspiracies.
People struggle to live from the heart because it is scary. The fear of vulnerability is one of the greatest fears. Ask a group of 100 people who would like to stand in front of the 99 strangers and tell them something personal. No one will raise their hand. You’ll find more people willing to skydive than speak in front of a crowd of people.
The fear of being vulnerable keeps people from living from the heart. But living from the heart makes all the difference. It’s the difference between a mundane existence and a life of fulfillment. They think it means being fearless. But that’s not true. It takes compassion for others to be vulnerable.
Everyone can live a fulfilling life. To do this, we must learn how to live lives with courage and compassion.
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.— Brené Brown (1)
This means a courageous life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. A fulfilled life isn’t an easy one. It’s a life that makes the world a better place. The victory of courage is not in success. The victory is in taking the risk, not the outcome. Lost loves, for instance. What is courage? It is taking the calculated risks.
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. The hidden benefits of vulnerability are the self-respect we gain when we act courageously.
To paraphrase Brené Brown, courage is taking action when the outcome is uncertain, and it 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 to engage 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
The Benefits of Vulnerability, Action Despite the Odds
Guess what, courageous actions fail more than they succeed. 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, it’s an ordinary choice. One benefit of vulnerability is finding the courage to face our fears.
The problem for our society is when people make choices that put other people at risk. This is ruthlessness, which is the absence of “ruth.” It comes from the uncommon noun ruth means compassion for the misery of another. So, someone makes choices with only profit as a measure, and 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 takes courage to be vulnerable. 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. Living life with courage and compassion is a decision. To do this, you must include hope and vulnerability.
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.
Living Life 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 the virtues of the spirit. The virtues of the spirit enable us to live, In Spirit. Living “In Spirit” is the root of inspiration. This one of the obvious benefits of vulnerability.
When we open the heart center is open, we also access the virtues of the spirit. These help us face our inner fears and enable us to walk with courage and compassion.
Gratitude, Love, Appreciation, Serenity, Joyfulness, Happiness, Thankfulness, Blissfulness, and Mindfulness; these are the virtues of the spirit. With these tools, we can conquer … not the world, but ourselves. And so then… the world does not need to be conquered. — Guru Tua
By practicing these virtues, you will satisfy your spiritual, mental, and physical needs. It teaches us to practice self-care and exercises to bolster your personal power. These things cultivate your health and wellness. This helps us face the challenges of modern life. So what is courage? It is living from the heart regardless of the outcome.
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 begin to ask the right questions. We become healthy skeptics 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.
Hope is another word we often associate with religion. Here Western religion ties hope to prayer. Prayer is the request for intervention by a higher power. In contrast, hope is the expectation that something will happen. Another good job of hijacking a term to infuse it with a 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 that 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 substitute “confidence” for faith.
Benefits of Vulnerability
Brené Brown talks about how vulnerability and courage are part of the same animal. Vulnerability starts with being vulnerable to our feelings. Spontaneous acts of courage are often the result of an unforeseen event.
An emergency arises. Someone acts 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. If we are living life from the heart, the source doesn’t matter; we will act.
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.
To live a life of courage and compassion, we need to use hope and vulnerability to fuel a positive mental outlook. We must learn to 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 hearts, we must also oppose injustice. If we are silent, this makes us a party to the injustice. Compassion is not silent; it is courage in action. So, it’s important to guard our hearts against racial, ethnic, gender, religious bias, and prejudice. Another benefit of vulnerability is our contribution to others.
When we speak up and take action, it’s risky. It makes us vulnerable, but there is hope it will lead to a positive resolution when we speak out and expose injustice. 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, 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 a 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. What is courage? What does it mean to you?
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(1) Brené Brown, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia