I first saw the combination of awareness and courage in Tim Urban’s tweet. Tim called it the ingredients for the recipe of “good future for humanity”. I wouldn’t be far-fetched to call it a good future for “humanity”, but let’s just focus on us “humans”.
Upon reflecting on this tweet for nearly about a year, I have had epiphanies of this piece of insight being more and more relatable. I have come to realize that when people’s lives are in trouble, it has to do with these two factors – they are either unaware of their own selves, or lack courage to take the step that they deep down want to take, or lack both.
Take a moment to think about the troubles you currently have in your life and try reflecting where your efforts have been lacking – it boils down to lack of either one of awareness or courage, or both of them. Let’s look at following examples:
In a financial crisis (either from loss of job or multiple debts) – You now probably need to be more consciously aware to save, invest, or sell some of your dearest possession(s), or need to be courageous enough to be vulnerable in front of your friends and seek for help.
In a health crisis – You weren’t aware of your eating habits, or weren’t courageous enough to maintain discipline for your routine exercise. Of course health problems could be genetic and you could consider yourself helpless, but in order to resolve it you will once again need to be aware of what you can/can’t do or eat, and courage to follow the task religiously.
In a relationship crisis – You’ll again need to be aware of where the problems are arising from and be courageous enough to take actions. You, yourself, could be the root of the problem – and if you don’t see it, you aren’t being aware. Even if you are aware and you see the problem is within you, you will need to draw courage to change yourself so that the relationship thrives.
There could be a lot of crisis, troubles, and problems that could be well beyond your span of control. What about that? Again, be aware of what could be within your boundaries, and have the courage to act.
For leading a content life, we will need to have BOTH awareness and courage. Being aware, but not having enough courage to act would make us feeble and helpless. We’ll need to depend on other people to take us out from our distress. Being courageous, but lacking awareness will eventually lead to a disaster because our over-confidence skyrockets. We will be doing things bravely, but without knowing and understanding why are we doing so, and what consequences are we facing as a byproduct of our choices. And finally, having neither awareness nor courage is completely useless.
So, awareness and courage – that’s it?
No. That’s still not it.
Awareness and courage are interlinked – you will need courage to be more aware, and you will need to be aware to be more courageous. It’s a loop. But where do you start? You start with a simple word called – PRACTICE.
But practice what?
Practice asking questions to yourself. Especially those difficult questions that you have been trying to run away from. Questions like these:
- Who am I, really?
- If I were to introduce myself without the use of any other person or institution I’m associated with, how would I introduce myself?
- What worries me most about future?
- What matters the most in my life?
- Why do I matter?
- What are the words I’d like to live by?
- What is my idea of fun?
You can find more self-introspection and reflection questions here.
And how do you find courage? Turns out, more you become aware, more you will find courage to take any action.
To live a happy and content life, you will need to discard a lot of things that goes against your personal values and your comfort zones. If you need to look for growth in your professional life, you probably need to quit hanging out with friends who would drag you down and focus on self-improvement. Cutting those ties would require a huge deal of courage.
The same goes with cutting toxic ties with family, relatives, friends, colleagues, or even institutions. All of these require huge courage, but prior to that, you will need to be aware of what is going on with you, your surroundings, the consequences of your actions, and so on. To begin the process of awareness, you will again need the courage to question yourself. The damned loop.
You think you fear giving presentations? Being aware of your content will help you reducing your fear. You need courage to say ‘no’ to your boss? Being aware of your personal values might help. You need courage to stand up for injustice? Being aware of our actions and consequences could help. Need to embrace your fear? Start with being aware of your fears first!
Taking small steps and celebrating the small wins could help in overcoming your fears. But do remember, everything starts with PRACTICE, a small first step.
Then after, it’s the duo – Awareness and Courage into the play.