Courage Articles

The Devil In Decisions

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Yeah, sure, I get it.

Change is risky. You could go from the frying pan to the fire. From bad to worse.

But still—the devil? If you know you’re dealing with Lucifer himself, isn’t it wise to at least toy with idea of getting the hell out of there?

“Better the devil you know” seems an argument for stasis. It suggests that since there are no guarantees, you might as well just suck it up and stay stuck with the devil.

Isn’t that setting the bar a little low?


To Tell (Yourself) The Truth

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The truth will set you free. – John 8:32

I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore.

I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free.

But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes.

And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies.

Lies like, “I’m happy.”

Or, “I have a great job that I love.”

Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.”

Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.”

Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.”

Lies, lies, lies.


Why We Should Choose Change

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes.

PsychCentral asked people on their Facebook page for their favorite motivational quotes and this one came up a couple of times. I’ve never heard it before and I like it.

I tend to get frustrated with people who complain about problems without ever doing anything different to fix them. There’s a sort of wishful/magical thinking about that, as if a problem should simply respond to your discontent and solve itself because you want it to.

My frustration is actually totally uncool. Unkind. People are naturally resistant to change. Of course they would rather gripe. It’s only natural. Change is hard. Inertia is very powerful.

But is that true for everyone all the time?


Face Reality: Life Can Be Random

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Everything happens for a reason.

I don’t know who said this first, but lots of people say it now and it annoys me every time I hear it.

I’m not a fan of magical thinking and that’s what this is—some sort of happy-voodoo, abracadabra, unicorns and rainbows, fairy dust and angels belief in preordination.

Of course, it’s a comforting belief. I get that. It makes the world feel less random, makes order of what might seem like chaos at the time.

But it’s not true. A lot of stuff happens for purely random reasons. And even religion and an omnipotent God can’t account for everything—that’s the whole premise behind the classic book of comfort, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Sure, some things happen for a reason, but that reason is in the past or present, not the future. And it’s not always a good reason. You drink, you drive, you wrap your car around a pole or end up in an addled-looking mug shot. It happened for a reason—you were drinking and driving—but it didn’t happen as a way to make you stop drinking and driving. It happened because you were doing something dumb.

Or you skip a class so often that you end up failing. Maybe the F inspires you to find another major because you realize that this subject bores you silly. That’s good. But you didn’t fail the class because the stars were saying you needed to change majors. You failed because you didn’t go to class.

This quote has it backwards. It’s not that everything happens for a reason. It’s that the best we can do when things happen is find a reason or a way to be OK with them. Use them to move forward. Figure out if there’s something to learn from them and take the lesson to heart. Put it into action.

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. But if we live consciously, we can find reasons to make the best of everything that happens.

Image of magic show is available from Shutterstock.


The Extraordinary Power of Despair

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Despair gives courage to a coward—Thomas Fuller

Similarly, a therapist once said to me, “Misery is a great motivator.”

And JK Rowling said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Yep. There’s little more effective for lifting you out of misery than misery itself.

When things are so friggin’ awful that you can’t imagine them getting any more awful, doing things that were unimaginable suddenly seem imaginable.

Change is so difficult, you gotta really, really, really want it. Or have it forced on you. And when life sucks so bad that getting out of bed requires monumental effort, change is being forced on you. That kind of despair is powerful stuff—powerful enough to make you drag yourself up and stumble forward.*

Besides, sometimes thinking about things staying the same is scarier than thinking about them changing.


Pithy Quotes Smackdown: Carl Jung vs. Hermann Hesse

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. — Carl Jung

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us. — Hermann Hesse

So. Here are two variations on a theme. They might seem to be saying the same thing, but are they? Not quite.

Hesse is saying that which you hate is part of what you are. If you hate someone for being lacking in compassion, it is because you lack compassion yourself.

Hmmm. Ya think?


You Can’t Control Life, All You Can Do Is Hang On For The Ride

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Ride the life ride.

I googled this and didn’t find it anywhere, so I am taking credit because I think it often and say it sometimes. Ride the life ride—sometimes that’s all you can do.

Being introspective tends to make me think that as long as I understand something, I have the power to change it. Or that if I think hard enough, I’ll be able to see the future. Or bend it to my will. Or even see what the right course to take is.

Yeah, if only.

Life is awfully complicated and it involves a million unknowns and other people and curveballs and screwballs and windfalls and tragedies and unpredictable matters of the heart and all sorts of messy, uncontrollable things.

Sometimes life gets so complicated, even thinking until smoke comes out your ears can’t sort it out.

That’s when it’s time to just ride the life ride.


Life As A Seductress

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

–Anais Nin

Ah, sultry Anais Nin. This is a come-hither quote if ever I heard one. From her lips, it’s seduction. Life is a temptress; are you man enough to take her on?

From the lips of, say, Dr. Martin Luther King, the words would sound very different.  They might make me puff up my chest and stand ready to meet the future. The late Christopher Reeve might make me nod with somber understanding. From Tony Robbins, the quote might sound canned.

But Anais Nin…that’s different. She sounds like she is opening a door from a nice room to a miraculous garden, bigger than the world, with flowers the size of hubcaps and rivers like diamonds in the sun. She is holding the door and looking at you expectantly. Do you walk through the door?

The garden is lovely. But you’ve never seen it before. And maybe there are tigers hidden in the woods. Or you might get lost. Or end up Soylent Green.


 

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