Learn How to Be Courageous. Watch the Lions, the Tigers and the Bears

Learn how to be courageous. Watch the lions, the tigers and the bears. What is Courage?

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”. Maya Angelou.

We can learn how to be courageous by watching the lions, the tigers and the bears. The word ‘courage’ originates from the Latin word cor (Coeur in French and cuore in Italian) which means heart; in essence, it means ‘to act from one’s heart’. The etymology of the word indicates that when we act courageously, we are activating our inner power and strength which surfaces through our heart’s desire. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficulty, challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.

Courage is not a quality that you are born with. It is one that has to be cultivated and honed. Today we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage.

So, what is courage? There are many definitions out there of what courage is. Below are my favorite ones.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel fear, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

“Deep down in the human spirit, there is a reservoir of courage. It is always available, always waiting to be discovered.” Pema Chodron.

“Courage is a special kind of knowledge: The knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.” David Ben-Gurion.

“The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” Jim Hightower.

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” John Wooden.

“We all have varying degrees of courage. Finding courage can be a choice we make every day, often in the quietest of ways. There is great courage in living life to the fullest, living with authenticity and a sense of alignment with one’s most deeply held values. And sometimes, simply getting up every day and putting one foot in front of another is an act of immense courage.” Barbara Bonner.

As Maya Angelou rightly said courage is a virtue and it is the most important one to cultivate because without it you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently. When we work to develop courage, we both empower ourselves with the ability to confront problems head-on, as well as acquire the skills required to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.

Be Courageous. Native American Woman. Photo by @freepk via freepik.com

In certain cultures, including in the Native American culture, there is a belief that our spirit guides accompany us during our life journey and those spirit guides include animals. A spirit animal acts as a teacher or messenger that comes in the form of an animal; it is believed that you do not choose the animal, rather the animal chooses you and is there to provide guidance, lessons, protection, power, or wisdom. You can have one or several spirit animals throughout your lifetime. They can come in and out of your lives to give you guidance, teach you about yourselves, and help you maintain balance. A spirit animal can bring you a message in several ways. You can physically cross paths with the animal, you can dream about it, see representations of the animal when you are out and about or it can come to you in your meditations. Your spirit animal often represents qualities and attributes that you may see in yourself.

To help us learn how to be courageous, I called upon the animal world and asked the lion, tiger, and bear to teach us a thing or two about courage.

Learn how to be courageous, watch the lion.

Learn how to be courageous wacth the lion. Photo by@freepik via freepik.com

The lion is the king of the jungle, it epitomizes courage and is universally known as the symbol of strength, true leadership, and a commanding presence that cannot be easily intimidated. If the lion spirit animal makes you aware of its presence, it will give you the strength you need to face and overcome hurdles in your life; it will also teach you how to harness your fear, anger, and wild emotions. The lion animal spirit urges you to move forward with courage and decisiveness and push through life, no matter what.

With the lion animal spirit by your side, you will learn to choose your battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting for and others aren’t, but taking care of the weak and vulnerable is always worth it. Lion people are very protective of their tribe and will spend considerable effort training their young to take care of themselves. For this reason, lion people are readily recognized as a leader and protector.

Learn how to be courageous, watch the tiger

Learn how to be courageous watch the tiger. Photo by@freepik via freepik.com.

Tiger symbolism is most commonly associated with strength and courage, as well as determination and independence. Tigers travel great distances, but they also spend much of their time resting and saving their energies. Choose wisely which pursuits you spend your energies on. Do not waste your efforts on those that will not give you something positive in return.

The tiger animal spirit also wants you to be determined and independent. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again until you make it. It’s OK not to get it right the first time, so don’t let your failures prevent you from achieving your dreams.

The tiger animal spirit is silent and solitary and thrives when there are no distractions. Its focus becomes more laser-sharp, and the silence makes it easier to spot any kind of movement nearby. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this is the easiest way you can lose them from your grasp. Take a step back and think of the best approach. Sometimes to be successful in life, you need to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely, and wait for the perfect timing, no matter how long it takes.

When the tiger animal spirit makes you aware of its presence, it will teach you to focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take action with swiftness and confidence. Persistence, patience, and hard work will lead you to success. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required. Rely on your personal strength when you need motivation, determination, or courage.

With the tiger as your animal spirit, people can trust you to be calm and collected. You are very observant when it comes to people and your surroundings, which makes you wise and perceptive.

Learn how to be courageous, watch the bear

Learn how to be courageous , watch the bear. Photo by@freepik via freepik.com

The bear is emblematic of grounding forces and strength. This animal spirit gives those who need it the courage to stand up against adversity. The spirit of the bear is a strong source of support in times of difficulty. When the bear shows up as a spirit guide in your life, it’s perhaps time to stand for your beliefs or your truth. Bears symbolize warrior spirit and courage to fight and would be invoked to help the warriors in the battle.

With a bear animal spirit at your side, you will learn the art of being patient and will learn to wait for just the right moment to manifest your ideas and projects. Moreover, you will have a great deal of confidence in who you are and where you are going in life.

The bear is an animal that lives a solitary life. Having a bear as a spirit animal can mean that you find balance and comfort in solitude. The presence of this animal could point to the need to “regroup” and set up boundaries, so you feel comfortable in your own space, where you can re-energize yourself in order to come back stronger than ever.

Be courageous, wake-up, dress-up, and show-up.

Being courageous doesn’t mean that you have to do bold spectacular acts of bravery and become a hero. Courage can show-up in a very quiet manner and in thousands of unexpected ways. Deciding not to fight can sometimes be as courageous as charging into battle. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage. Learning a new skill, starting a new business venture, stepping outside your comfort zone requires a lot of courage. Standing-up to bullies and speaking your mind require a fair dose of courage. Falling in love, letting your guards down can be an act of courage. Staying positive and upbeat when facing setbacks, ill-health, old age or even death requires a lot of courage.

And this my dear friend is your Quest. Be courageous.

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Positivity vs. Negativity – Battle of the Fittest

Martial Arts

Art takes many forms; as an author, I consider myself an artist. In my free time, I am also a ‘martial artist’. The term ‘martial arts’ is closely associated with the fighting arts of East Asia; the term is however derived from Latin and means ‘arts of Mars,’ the Roman god of war. I practice Muay Thai (also known as Kick Boxing); the word ‘muay’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘wavya’ which means ‘bind together’ and the word ‘thai’ refers to the country Thailand. Its generic name means ‘unarmed combat,’ a true test in any battle of the fittest.

Muay Thai in Namsan Park, Seoul

Martial arts have health and spiritual benefits; the spiritual benefits include teaching self-respect, respect for others, patience, humility, self-control and modesty, the health benefits derived from the conditioning that helps keep the body fit, strong and properly toned. To be effective, a good Muay Thai fighter must keep his physical and mental condition in balance, he must move with speed, but also show common sense and intelligence, he must train both his mind and his body with dedication, concentration, and discipline. Muay Thai also develops a sense of brotherhood, a fighter will help others when the opportunity arises, and will never resort to fighting unless there is no other option available.

The history of Muay Thai can be traced to the middle of the 18th century. During battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam, the famous fighter Nai Khanomtom was captured. The Burmese knew of his expertise in hand-to-hand combat and gave him an opportunity to fight for his freedom. Nai Khanomtom managed to knock out ten consecutive Burmese contenders. Impressed by his skill, he was freed and returned to Siam where his fighting style became known as Muay Thai and later recognized as a national sport.

Getting Balanced

If you ever feel a bit off-balance or stressed-out I recommend you find a Muay Thai class and develop your fighting spirit because, perhaps without realizing it, we are all engaged in fierce battles every day. These battles occur within us between positivity and negativity. For the sake of this article, I will call positivity ‘Yang’ (positive, bright, masculine) and negativity ‘Yin’ (negative, dark, feminine). Picture those two in a ring; if your first impulse is to cheer and expect ‘Yang’ to win, I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken, in a battle of the fittest, ‘Yin‘ would triumph.

Yin and Yang in the Battle of the Fittest

Battle of the Fittest – Negativity

Our brain has a negative bias, it loves negativity! Our brain is wired with a much greater sensitivity to unpleasant rather than pleasant news. Dr John Cacioppo, the ‘Scientist of Loneliness’ from  Ohio State University, conducted a study to demonstrate this effect by contrasting the effect on the brain of pictures arousing positive feelings (such as sport cars, holiday shots, ice creams, etc.), negative feelings (such as mutilated faces or dead cats), and, for good measure pictures to arouse neutral feelings (of everyday objects, such as dinners plate and hair dryers).

The subjects had their brain activity recorded during the experiment providing data to Dr. Cacioppo to analyze. The results showed very clearly that our brain reacts more strongly to negative rather than positive stimuli. Our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat rather than good news and that information is stored in our short to long term memory. This is why ‘Yin’ has a better chance of winning against ‘Yang.’

Our weighting of negative input is an evolutionary development to keep us out of harm’s way. Back in prehistory, when humans faced life or death situations every day, it was far more important for the brain to respond to negative rather than positive stimuli. If a wild animal charged towards you, you needed to fight or run away and to take that decision in a split-second. But, in non-threatening situations, like being offered food, or a gift, there is no such requirement for speed – your brain can react very slowly. To make matters worse, not only do we react more quickly to negative experiences, we are looking for them all the time. This makes it extremely easy for our minds to get into a negative feedback loop; you are hyper-aware of negativity and when it happens, you react quicker, it impacts you more and you remember it for longer. One scientist described the brain like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. 

Positive Outlook

When faced with decisions or uncertainties, it is natural to have a fear of the unknown, I confess – this happens to me a lot, which creates a lot of anxiety and negative emotions.  Unfortunately, the nature of the world is uncertain; nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, and it is important to maintain a positive outlook.

According to Sadhguru, Indian yogi, mystic, and author:

you cannot overcome something which does not exist. Your fear is always about something that does not exist. Fear is happening because of excessive imagination. It is about things that haven’t happened yet, but you are creating those things in your mind. Fear means that you are producing horror movies in your mind. Produce something else, produce a comedy, a love story, an action movie.”

In the battle of the fittest, it is important to have a positive outlook and understand that we all have a natural tendency to be negative; you must train yourself to be a ‘Yang.’ Being positive, overcoming negative emotions requires dedication, discipline, and patience – just like with Muay Thai – and just like being a successful Muay Thai fighter it is necessary to train your body and spirit to work together, so that when the time comes to do battle against ‘Yin,’ the negative spirit, the odds will be in your favor.

And this, my Dear Friend is your Quest.

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.