This article was originally posted on Success’ website.

 

If you’re reading this, you’re someone who desires more from yourself and others. You’re always looking for ways to increase your productivity, happiness and health, and there’s all these life hacks and time management skills that can help you.

But the secret weapon that will help you live your best life every single day? Courage.

I’m going to show you how to become the most courageous version of yourself. And to help you really understand how to build courage, let’s start with something familiar: those feelings in your body when you get back to the gym after a long break.

We all know how hard it is to get back into shape. Just putting on your workout clothes and heading out the door, while your mind screams at you to stop and go back, feels like a major accomplishment in itself. Once you finally make it to the gym, your body cries no at the first step of a run, the first turn of the bike pedals or the first rep with a weight. Within minutes, you’re exhausted. You’re gasping for air and turning beet red.

Trust me, I understand. Trying to get in shape is such a huge challenge because every single exercise is so hard when you’re first starting out. And you know what’s also hard? Knowing that you used to be able to run miles without stopping and hold a plank without caving after five seconds.

Yes, most of us can think back to a time when these exercises didn’t feel as difficult. A time when we were in good shape because we made exercise a consistent habit. No matter what your baseline level of fitness is, you can always get stronger through regular workouts.

Did you know the skill of courage is just like your muscles? Courage is a skill that only improves through practice. It’s not a trait that some people innately have and others don’t.

I define courage as the ability to take action in the face of self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, overthinking or hesitation. Courage is an ability, just like lifting a heavy weight is an ability. You increase strength by pushing your muscles, and you increase your “courage fitness” through consistent, daily acts of courage.

At first, it’s hard to take courageous action. It’s just like that first day at the gym. But as we push ourselves to exercise the muscle of courage, a funny thing happens. Every single time you flex it, taking courageous action becomes that much easier. Every time you push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone, speak up, wake up to face the day ahead of you or advocate for your needs, you complete a “courage workout.”

Daily courage workouts lead to strong courage muscles, and that’s when being courageous becomes a habit. In the moments when you face self-doubt, fear, and hesitation, you can push past these feelings with ease. When your courage muscles are in tiptop shape, your feelings don’t control you.

After a few weeks of consistently hitting the gym, exercise feels automatic, and your courage muscles work in the same way. But when you stop working out, your physical and courage muscles will atrophy. Doctors recommend daily exercise for your health. I recommend daily acts of courage for your soul.

It’s in the moments in which you push through hesitation using courageous actions that you change your life. When you take control of a situation with an act of everyday courage, you are no longer defaulting to fear. In moments of hesitation—those times when your feelings of doubt and worry and fear creep in—you have a critical opportunity. It’s the opportunity to practice everyday courage. Where you once needed to courageously push yourself to overcome hesitation, you will now find it to be second nature.

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