“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
It’s New Year’s Day and I’m taking a different approach to planning my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve tried and failed many times in some of my previous vain attempts at perfectionism disguised as self-improvement. In fact, when reading Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller, The Happiness Project, the only commandment for happiness (submitted by one of her readers) that resonated with me long after finishing the book was: “I am already enough.” These days I prefer books that open my mind to possibility, rather than filling it with worry about all the ways I am not YET enough. I’m trying to adopt a more relaxed, hands-in-the-air-less-white-knuckle-approach to riding this roller coaster called life. I like books that are more bucket list than to-do list. Though goal-setting is important and empowering, mining our dreams often requires getting fear out of the way first. Diane Conway’s book What Would You Do if You Had No Fear?: Living Your Dreams While Quakin’ in Your Boots, for example, is filled with stories of folks who mustered the courage to conquer their fears and follow their dreams.
Fear, as I’ve written about before, can be our teacher or our enslaver. Courage is not the absence of fear, but harnessing fear’s potential and using it to guide us not only to safety but success! Fear can be a healthy neurobiological response to danger to help us survive, driven by our fear command center amygdalae. It can also be induced through the perception of an uncontrollable or unavoidable threat, resulting in the psychological phenomenon called “anxiety”. Avoiding what we fear has a nasty way of causing anxiety.
When I asked my kids recently what they would do if fear wasn’t an issue, my son said, “I’d become a pro snowboarder and do more parkour.” For those not yet familiar with this hair-raising (for parents) activity first spawned in France, check out this link. My daughter responded, “All kinds of crazy stuff, like gymnastics or things to do with heights.” Not only does posing this question help us identify some of our dreams, it can also help us recognize the fears that may be in our way.
Remember: the best way to unleash your inner courage is to harness your fear in ways that ensure not only your survival, but even more importantly your capacity to thrive in life! Check out our Six Types of Courage resource to help you and your kids brainstorm the type(s) of courage you might like to develop in 2012.
Enjoy the ride!