On Fear and True Courage: Being Brave is Daily Mission

“We must have courage to bet on our ideas, to take the calculated risk, and to act. Everyday living requires courage if life is to be effective and bring happiness”, observes Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics.

However, sometimes fear gets in the way of being brave and, as the result, being truly happy.


Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle (384-322) argued many truths of life. He observed that fear and courage have many faces. In a book On Man In The Universe (1943), published by Classics Club and edited by Louise Ropes Loomis, the philosopher of timeless observations writes:

People are not all terrified by the same things. Some things indeed we feel are beyond the power of human endurance, and such things therefore are terrible to every intelligent person. But terrors that are not beyond the power of endurance vary in magnitude and degree; the same is true of things that inspire confidence. The brace man is unshakable as far as a man may be. Hence, though he will fear things, he will face them in the right way and in a rational spirit for honor’s sake, since this is the end of his virtue.

But it is possible to fear these things too much or too little; and also to fear things that are not frightful as if they were. A fault is committed when the fear itself is wrong or is wrong in manner of expression or in time or the like; the same whit things which inspire confidence.

“To the brave man courage is noble”, writes Aristotle and observes that a man, who excessively displays a foolish acts of courage is a foolhardy. Philosopher also notes, “most foolhardy people are cowards at heart”, although they show acts of fierce braveness whenever they feel safe, they do not face real terrors.

One whose fear is excessive is a coward, for he fears the wrong things and fears them in the wrong way, and so on. He is lacking too in confidence, but he reveals himself more by his excess of fear in the presence of pain. The coward is a despondent sort of person, for he is afraid of everything. The contrary is true of the brave man; for a confident person is naturally sanguine. Thus the coward, the foolhardy person, and the brave man who face the same things, assume different attitudes toward them. For the two first go either too far or not far enough, and the third hold the middle position, which is right. Also, the foolhardy are precipitate and eager before the hour of danger, but fail in its presence, while the brave man are keen in the height of action but quit before the hour of action arrives.

Courage is the silent quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty and danger, it does not require attention. And according to the philosopher, it’s not possible without some sort of confidence. “Courage then, as has been said, is a mean state with regard to things that cause confidence or fear in this circumstances described. It chooses action or endures pain because it is honorable to do so…” believes Aristotle.

Modern age author and poet Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) also spoke up on the need of courage in one of her conferences. She believes that out of evil there can come good.

Maya Angelou in the conference said:

We need the courage to create ourselves daily, to be bodacious enough to create ourselves daily — as Christians, as Jews, as Muslims, as thinking, caring, laughing, loving human beings. I think that the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable.

Another American author and public speaker Brene Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfection complements the idea of the need to practice the courage daily for it to really succeed. Author observes, “Courage is… a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

Though often courage is analyzed from philosophical point of view, it’s important to know that it is a psychological muscle. And muscles need to be trained. When it comes to “how to train it”, the simple tricks work. One of them is having overall clarity, and not being afraid of new experiences, even bad ones. Doing something outside the comfort zone also helps. Waving at strangers, for instance, increases the levels of confidence and goodness, and as the result produces courage.

As art is a product of experience, the courage is a by-product of goodness, positivity and faith. Maintaining the right kind of positive thinking and possessing high moral standards is the foundation for a courageous mindset and brave heart.