Disposition: Courage

This month here at Onward we are exploring the disposition of courage. And this disposition is unique in that all of the dispositions of the resilient are strengthened by courage. Purposefulness, acceptance, optimism, curiosity – to take any of these stances implies risk.

And even beyond the dispositions, it also takes courage to explore and embrace the habits as well, especially the habit of understanding emotions. Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist, shares insight into how we can bring forward our best selves forward in her TED Talk The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage.

Many times throughout her talk I am reminded of the work in Chapter 2: Understand Emotions in Onward. Especially when she shares, “Research now shows that the radical acceptance of all of our emotions — even the messy, difficult ones — is the cornerstone to resilience, thriving, and true, authentic happiness. But emotional agility is more that just an acceptance of emotions. We also know that accuracy matters. In my own research, I found that words are essential. We often use quick and easy labels to describe our feelings. “I’m stressed” is the most common one I hear. But there’s a world of difference between stress and disappointment or stress and that knowing dread of “I’m in the wrong career.” When we label our emotions accurately, we are more able to discern the precise cause of our feelings. And what scientists call the readiness potential in our brain is activated, allowing us to take concrete steps. But not just any steps — the right steps for us. Because our emotions are data.”

We have found that when labeling emotions, this resource is a great help: The Core Emotions. Get to know the different shades of our emotions and see if you can label exactly what you are feeling. It often takes practice but know it is helping you live as your most authentic self.