Courage, hope, vulnerability, and compassion are the doorway 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. It enables us to live with courageous compassion while being vulnerable and keeping a positive and hopeful attitude.
But attitude alone isn’t the answer. Putting on a facade of confidence is pretending. What we want is to be genuine. It takes courage to be authentic in our modern culture. And, it also carries hope for a better future to help us through the rough spots. You need a soft heart and openness. In other words, you must be transparent and vulnerable to allow your true self to shine. Wrap all of this in compassion for yourself and others. Now you have the ingredients.
We use a formula to express this delicious state: Add equal amounts of courage, hope, vulnerability, and compassion. The result is fulfillment. You need all four elements to achieve the goal of living a fulfilling life.
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)
A courageous life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, and a fulfilled life isn’t easy. However, living life with courage makes the world a better place. The victory of courage is not in success. The triumph is in taking the risk, not the outcome. Lost loves, for instance.
So what is courage? It is taking calculated risks. The outcome is uncertain, but it is necessary because it resonates with some deep values that we cannot ignore.
What does courage mean in everyday life? Courage is facing injustice. It is standing up for those who do not have the power to do so. It means you call out those exploiting others and the environment. Actively resisting the use of groupthink manipulation for religious indoctrination of vulnerable people and children and expose those who use censorship to promote their values.
Living Life with Courage and Compassion
Most people have hope for better things. Some people are active in their quest for a better life. Courage is executed with compassion because the culture places several barriers in the way. It also takes more than courage, and it brings 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 people who are positive, practical, and persistent. These folks exhibit common sense and logic. Most importantly, they question everything and 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.
The Cost of Courage
Think of courage 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.
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 confidence and a level of hope. Hope is the expectation that a future outcome will be successful. But, being hopeful courageous, and confident still does not guarantee success. These qualities provide the focus needed for you to undertake the action.
Acting with courage can rock society’s boat, and our culture doesn’t want us to rock the boat. It would prefer us to be compliant, not courageous. The programming of our cultural folklore drives us to be 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 essential 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
Courage will lead you to confront those who support racism, bigotry and discrimination. Unfortunately, sometimes this confrontation is with friends and family. You can choose to change your thinking by “saving” the believer. Or, in some cases, they will not alter their negative bias, so you must make the difficult choice to break the relationship.
The Benefits of Vulnerability
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 the result is inevitable and there’s no personal risk, it’s an ordinary choice. One benefit of vulnerability is finding the courage to face our fears.
The problems of society have always been people in power making choices that put others at risk. This trait is called “ruthlessness,” which is the absence of “ruth.” It comes from the uncommon noun ruth, which 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 of 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. These virtues enable us to live, In Spirit. Living “In Spirit” is the root of inspiration which is one of the benefits of vulnerability.
When we open the heart center is open, we also access these gifts. 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 our “personal power.” These things cultivate your health and wellness. And these are the tools that we need to 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. Living from the heart does not make good followers or consumers. We are much harder to control when we think with our conscience. As our awareness opens, we see through the cultural narrative’s blindfold, 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 an expert at hijacking the terms like Hope and Faith. For example, Western religion defines faith as belief in something for which there is no proof. On the contrary, faith means having complete trust in something. So, it doesn’t apply to religious mythology at all. However, when you mention the term faith, most people associate it with Western religion.
Insecurity and fear are the basis of the Abrahamic religions. They sell the afterlife as a counterfeit antidote to our existential fear. Unfortunately, it is the all-time best-selling intangible product with no customer complaints and 100% markup.
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 is to infuse it with a religious bias. It’s the difference between life happening for you or to you.
Faith, Hope, and Business
Because of the religious connotations of 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 endeavor 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.
Brené Brown talks about how the benefits of vulnerability and courage being part of the same animal. When we act with courage, it starts with being vulnerable to our feelings. Spontaneous acts of bravery are often the result of an unforeseen event.
An emergency arises, and someone acts without a thought for their safety. When this happens, one of two things is going on. 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 culture’s values. If we are “living life from the heart,” the source doesn’t matter; we will act.
It’s important to remember what the culture deems appropriate changes with time. A soldier risks his life to save another person. Are his actions the result of training, his value for human life, or is it a mixture of both? It is easy to see how courage, vulnerability, and risk overlap. These three elements are evidence of living from the heart.
Courage, Hope, Vulnerability, and Compassion
So, where do you start this journey of a more fulling life? Open your eyes and let your heart be vulnerable. If you do this, you’ll find the cause or person that needs your compassionate help.
Whatever outlet you choose for your work of compassion, it will likely take courage for you to reach out. We don’t act because we fear that we will be inadequate. We fear our efforts will fail. Overcoming your inertia takes both courage and hope. Courage gives you the strength to start, and hope for a good outcome will sustain your efforts.
We need more people living life with courage, hope, vulnerability, and compassion.
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 quiet; it is courage in action. So, it’s essential 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 we hope it will positively resolve 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 famous or a celebrity.
People will call you names, a heretic, or a humanist. If this is happening, this is a sign you are pushing against the cultural narrative. Keep up the excellent 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