What Is Courage And How To Have Courage When It Matters

What is courageWhat is courage? It’s one of the four stoic virtues. The other three are Wisdom, Justice and Moderation. Specifically, courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. I would say DESPITE fear.

And what does this have to do with helping you?

To explain, the single most common regret of the dying was wishing they had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life that others expected of them? Because when people realize that their life is almost over, they look back on it with clarity.

In your conquest of happiness, courage is key.

When you are about to die, there is a clarity that only exists in that precious moment. Everything pales in significance, and only that which truly matters is able to remain in the mind. In other words, most people die knowing that they didn’t go for it.

This is your life. When you die, it’s a journey you will make on your own. Only you will have to deal with the consequences, so make your own decisions. Those decisions will require courage.

What Is Courage Other Than Action?

Our life changes in the five-second pause it takes to make a decision. You must make the decisions that are true to you. This requires courage. And for courage to exist, there must be risk and fear. With one push at a time you must have the courage to make the right choices.

Because courage involves risk and fear, you will never feel like doing the thing that is required. If you accept the discomfort and lack of confidence and move forward anyway, things will get done and people will respect the person they think you are. You will be courageous, it just feels different than you think. It does not feel empowering; it’s moving forward with a knot in your gut and your knees wobbling.

It’s not courage when you go into battle as a strong and capable warrior, that is confidence. Courage is stepping forward to battle when you are sick, ill and weak. It’s doing what you must when there is risk. That is courage, and it’s required for an excellent life because you will not always be dominant in every situation. You will need to get things done when you are the weaker, the ill one, the old man.

Should you hesitate in speaking the truth? Should you hesitate and edit yourself when the proper actions or words are required? No. You shouldn’t, but we all have, because in doing so, we’d take a risk. A risk of harm, loss, a failure, stepping into danger, whatever.

Courage By Definition

Courage is the ability to put yourself into action, to exercise your will, despite the risk. The greater the personal danger, the greater the courage required.

Men who are forced to fight are less courageous than those who demonstrate courage in battle because of their own free will. Men who have taken beatings in battle yet go back in, are courageous. One who has nothing to fear, because he has never suffered loss, cannot be courageous.

The courage of man is not merely a tool to be used in the service of others. A man should fight for himself, to compete and look after his own interests. It is not the best leader who leads, it is the man who takes the lead who will lead. You must take the risk of losing it all when pressed backward from your own interests. You must push forward with the threat of domination because at it’s root, all is given to the greatest threat. As a child, you submitted to the wrath of your father, not his kind words. You need the absolute commitment to fight in the face of pain, of disfigurement, until death.

This indomitable spirit is a major theme in every heroic journey. A journey I say you are already on the path of.

It is sad that men seldom curate the courage to become what they are, to do what they were created for, what their bodies vibrate to perform. Two men I knew both said the same thing. Charles Bukowski and Jack Donovan, “Men chain themselves to a stake in the ground—left to the madness of barking at shadows in the night, taunted by passing challenges left unresolved and whose outcomes will forever be unknown.

Having The Courage To Be Yourself

Carlos Castaneda Thinking Your Life Is A SongWarning: Alternative Thought Ahead – I am reading Carlos Castaneda’s “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” in the backyard. It’s 4:10 in the afternoon and the sun is about to go behind the big poplar tree by the back fence. The breeze and temperature are perfect thanks to the wonderful Canadian summer climate.

My girlfriend is asleep for an afternoon nap. We both are getting a little tired on our herbal cleanse. I got up about half an hour ago.

Life comes in moments.

In this moment reading page 110 of Castaneda’s book, I realize I am really just a part of the universe’s big musical production. We are little songs.

Your life plays out, moment by moment. Your life plays out note by note. When complete, the performance is a series of moments, of notes, strung together. This is your song. It has color, harmony, emotion, and dynamics. You must think yours is true. A great song causes a change of state. It takes a sad person and makes them happy or comforted. It can cause a happy person to become melancholy or to jump up and dance. Perfect balance is perfect stagnation.

Your body, the instrument you have been given, has internal qualities that will affect the song that is you. In the way, a drum creates music a flute cannot, there is a creative sound that is you. Your song is special.

We learn to play, to express the notes we feel inside in an outward creative action as we get older. Some lucky ones know their song very early. They don’t waste time trying to make a drum sound like a trumpet.

The Courage To Change And Act

Get your song out there. You want the fire to grow. Play those bars and measures. Your life so far has been an intro, and now the whole band is on stage waiting for the drop of your baton. At first, your song was struggling to be heard, until the rest of the instruments joined in. We are one big orchestra in a concert with many songs.

So many songs. So many notes. Many styles and expressions to be played… and heard. There is no right song or wrong song. There are merely songs of expression. Many notes, instruments, and songs can be on one stage. Enjoy the chaos because soon there will be only silence.

The Courage To Dance Of Your Shackles

Isn’t it funny that long ago, before most of us spent our days stuck in traffic, people knew the nature of reality?

That while we chase success and all our goals sparkle with allure, the power we seek is only a breath away.

The world is a metaphor and words are powerful tools that start turning thoughts into reality. Everything is vibrational and in the beginning was a word.

A thought, a word, a sound, a vibrational movement of particles. Certain vibrational frequencies producing sound through the pulsing of matter, and denser vibrations becoming matter itself. Reality is a collection of vibrations, of thoughts, sounds, it’s a song.

When I hear a song, I dance.

At The Club In Mexico

What Is Courage Other Than Laughing At Death?

the how gives the whatNobody likes to face death. Actually, nobody even wants to talk about it including me. There have been many a night where I was drifting off into sleep when I suddenly realized with a gut-wrenching realization that no matter what I could possibly try, my existence on this planet will eventually be over.


Now what do you do with such a cheery thought? You can keep stuffing it into the back of your mind or you can use it. If you think about a lot of your actions in regards to trying new activities or going out on a limb, you probably back off frequently. Why? Because of your emotional drive for survival. At some level you see these new things as possible risks. Even though you may not die from them directly, you are fearing for your survival. You fear death and now your actions are killing your life and adventure.

You’ve given into death and not even flipped him the bird.

Let’s take this to the extreme. What if you never left the house, never tried anything risky or new until the day you died long into the future. Just maybe, because you never put yourself out there emotionally or physically, you never suffered any consequences. You made it all the way to 110 sitting on your couch. The most depressing thing? You have no stories, adventures, relationships and a ton of “I wish I hads”.

Use death as a tool because it’s there and it’s not going away. Use it.

Anger Sometimes Comes Before Courage

Here is what I mean. When you think of death or feel that fear, let it make you angry. Go ahead and feel that panic. Time is running out and no matter what, you get snuffed from this physical existence. Then use it to motivate you for huge action.

There is nothing to save. There is nothing to protect. You will lose it all in the end. GO FOR IT.

You are laying there and you sit bolt upright with a knot in your stomach. You want to hit something, cry or simply freak out. I understand. Now, what is the biggest action you could take in your life that you are scared of doing? Asking for a raise? Asking that girl of your dreams out on a date? Calling that huge company and setting up a meeting to negotiate a contract? Going to the gym in front of all those people? What about that trip you have been putting off to Thailand?


You have to stop being weak and face the inevitable because a coward dies a thousand deaths but the hero dies only once. Punch death in the face and use it to make this life as incredible as possible. Go places and do things that make your life a story worth reading about.

What is courage? It’s surely what’s required to stop surviving and start thriving. You only get one shot. Pull the trigger.

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10 thoughts on “What Is Courage And How To Have Courage When It Matters

  1. Candice West

    Wow, this blog really puts things in perspective. I can’t say that I have been able to use death as tool yet in my own life, but what a great concept! This would really help me to focus in on what really matters most in this life.

  2. Joe R.

    You know this is a very message. I know it will take some time to sink in but you can bet I will be thinking about this concept in the days to come. If I really let myself face the fear of death in this PROACTIVE way, my life will change. Wow, Ray, thank you. BTW, I have never ‘replied’ to an article before. This one in unique. A game changer.

  3. charles pocock

    I’ve been facing a big decision for a long time. It won’t go away and you’re right. I have to do it. Thank you for the nudge in the right direction.
    All the best,

  4. Julie Soukup

    Ray, this blog speaks to me and I appreciate you taking the time to write about something as basic but as crucial to happiness as facing your fears. I would take it one step further and remind people of the incredible natural high and innate joy you will get from punching your fears in the face, knowing what you can accomplish and finding success…no matter how small…which will lead you off the couch and on with life! Thanks Ray.

  5. becky

    Ray,I recently made a huge decision for my life, and seeing this has really put things in to perspective, I’m from the UK so theres no real chance of me seeing your visits… any chance you’ll come over? I have always had a fear of running infront of people for some reason, but with this I think I can manage it! thanks Becky

  6. Raymond Burton

    Julie, that made me laugh… Becky, you can manage to do anything you want. Go run… you’ve have plenty of time to not run in about 80 years…. AND think about all the people in wheel chairs that WISH they could… I think about this whenever something is sore. At least I have the ability to feel from the waist down unlike some people….


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