When it comes not only to improving your mental health, but changing your entire life for the better, one positive trait will get you further than almost any other.
It’s not resilience, it’s not optimism, and it’s not spirituality.
It’s bravery. That’s it.
This is obviously just my opinion, but I’m going to try my best to back it up with definitions and logical trains of thought.
To some, bravery may sound like resilience, but it’s not. Resilience implies that while acting, you can handle the emotional pressure of the event. Bravery is simpler. Bravery just says that you have to be there.
What is Bravery?
According to Merriam-Webster, bravery is “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to the face of danger, fear, or difficulty : the quality or state of being brave.”
In my opinion, this definition is a bit extreme. I would personally prefer: “acting when one is unsure of the outcome.”
It’s all you need when you want to achieve anything. Just to be uncertain; not even, necessarily, to strive under that uncertainty, but just to notice it and keep your feet planted in the ground.
For example, say you were releasing a song. You don’t know if all those hours of work will be worth it, and you don’t know if anyone is gonna see it. But it’s brave to just continue sitting at your desk, it’s bravery to add another chord, bravery to cross out a line and replace it.
When you realize how common this feeling of uncertainty is, it becomes easier to experience the novelty of it; you may grow to enjoy the feeling of uncertainty, because it certainly has the power to provide your life with a thrill.
This is how non-mindful people likely experience bravery:
Why is it Important?
Personal bravery is such an important trait to have because in order to be successful at anything, one has to, at some point, be uncertain of an outcome.
This discussion applies to mental health very well. Do you know if a therapist is gonna help you so much? No. Do you know if writing a journal will help your mental clarity? No. Could you be upturning your entire way of life and be met with disappointment at the result? Absolutely.
It’s bravery to let yourself get so, so, perilously close to ultimately giving up before pivoting to something else.
And this is what most people with mental illnesses do: they can be so exhausting because we never allow ourselves to let go—the perpetual fight exhausts us, but that says mounds about our willpower and personal strength.
That being said, most of us already have the bravery we need to make change in our lives. So how can we use it positively?
How to Incorporate Bravery into Your Daily Life
If you’re trying to be brave; in other words, if you want to act more confidently against the unknown, you’re in luck.
We are given an infinite amount of opportunities every single day to be brave. And I have even better news! We don’t have to take every single one!
According to the laws of marginal improvement, a small change or action each day will accrue to something bigger over time.
Instead of reaching for your phone when you wake up, write for 10 minutes. Eat something healthy for breakfast instead of cereal. Go for a walk the moment you get the urge. Work on a project that scares you for 15 minutes.
Those are just some examples, and you don’t have to do all of them every day. It’s all about getting into a mindset that values this statement: “I don’t know if I’m really helping myself, but applaud the bravery in trying.”
Ideally, our reaction to bravery can look like this:
Forget the Outcome
If you’ve read any of my past posts, you could probably gather the fact that I believe it’s a waste of time to try controlling your thoughts. It doesn’t work, and our focus should be put into controlling our actions instead.
If you think about it, you can’t ultimately control the outcome of anything. Can you try your best to get into your dream school? Sure! But you can’t guarantee it. Can you sing a great song or write a great novel? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have monetary success.
So when you’re doing something brave, whatever that means for you, try to focus on the fact that you’re being brave: the outcome of it doesn’t matter, because you really can’t control it.
That goes both ways. The most successful people didn’t really have any control over whether they were successful. They did, however, have control over the things they did to get there.
But when you do something that makes you uncomfortable, applaud yourself, since you’re acting exactly as the best people would. You’ll find that this ability becomes easier over time.
When you plant your feet down despite not knowing the outcome of something, celebrate! because you’ve joined the ranks of the most celebrated people in the world. Acting becomes easier when you find personal pride in it besides other objective measures of success.
For example, say you make the decision to study for another 2 hours for a test. That takes some bravery, since a. you don’t know how much it will help you and b. you could be doing something else in the meantime.
But when you’re done studying, if you say “I’m proud that I had the bravery to make that potentially good decision,” regardless of the outcome, you get the best of both worlds: you feel proud of yourself, ready to make more good decisions, and a most certainly higher grade.
As long as you’re living your life well according to you, nothing else matters. Because nothing else can be controlled.
Let me know in the comments: what small act of bravery do you plan to take today?
If you have any questions or suggestions, comment or email me, and show yourself that you’re braver than you think.
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