I CHOOSE COURAGE.

Courage is not a feeling it's a decision. It is being filled with the spirit of BOLDNESS and FEAR - LESS - NESS - Jeff Wickwire


I choose to put on courage on this year! I have been wearing some boldness as I shift out of one career into another. It takes courage to shine your light out on to the world and it is scary. John Wayne said "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." Courage is not the absence of fear it's the decision to not fear. I chose to saddle up even though I was scared.


Have any of you had to wear some courage today, this week or year?


I Choose Courage so that I may boldly step into a new chapter.

This past Sunday I listened to one of my favorite preachers (my favorite is my dad) talk about Courage. What he shared inspired me to talk about my courage. You were created to shine like a light. You are a light onto the world. You are the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:16 it says - Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father that is in Heaven. I feel that verse because I know God created me to shine my light with others. The lord has been nudging me for a while to grow and expand and to drop my fear of sharing my heart with others. So here I am saddling up even though I'm scared.


So how do you find courage?


How do you put on courage like clothing? Is it that simple? Well for me no. It has been a journey for me to shed fear and put on my Boldness. I have always been a servant at heart and would push my needs and feelings aside to help someone. I kept this up until I started to get sick, which lead me to search on ways for me to heal. During the covid lock down, I started an online course that Suzy Batiz taught called Alive OS. The things I learned helped me work on some internal issues I hadn't dealt with like abandonment and me feeling unworthy then facing my Cave of Fear. I dove into sharpening my meditation skills and created new healthy routines like exercising, eating healthier meals and learning to ground myself. Working everyday to take care of my needs and allowing myself time to heal has allowed me to put on my courage.


Fear can be paralyzing.


The fear of what might happen or making the wrong decision can cause nothing to happen in your life. Instead of moving forward, you retreat to a safe and warm comfort zone and avoid making any major life decisions. However, getting too attached to your comfort zone can be dangerous. It can hold you back from any kind of personal, professional, and emotional growth.


 

What can you do to help your personal growth?


Each of us is on our own unique journey of personal growth. It’s a continuous process that spans our entire life. Personal growth can mean many things like setting and achieving goals, building your self-esteem or finding your purpose.


Our biggest growth comes from overcoming problems and situations that challenge us.

And that’s when fear sets in. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown — you name it.

When you let fear become a roadblock that gets in the way of your own life, your personal growth gets temporarily stunted. Instead of developing our mental fitness and growing, we retreat into our shells. We also avoid new experiences to avoid uncomfortable feelings.


Mental fitness can be defined as having and maintaining a state of well-being and cultivating awareness of how we think, behave and feel. Meditating everyday helped train my mind to block out the madness going on in the world so that I could go inside to see what my internal chatter was about. My meditation is done sometimes in the shower where there are no cell phones. Shower meditation made it easy for me to quiet my to-do list, as I sit and inhale the aromas from the scrub I used as I closed my eyes. I ask God for guidance in whatever was on my mind at the moment. Meditation along with doing breathing exercises helped me learn how to regulate my emotions. Regulating my emotions it has allowed me to get through some pretty difficult situations.


Courage does not alway roar....


When we learn how to regulate our emotions, the way we interact with the world is different. It isn't just one interaction with a spouse. It is the cumulative effect on our emotional health. Imagine being less reactive in all of the hundreds of interactions we have every week. Learning to regulate our emotions, we are choosing how to be and how to respond, rather than ping-ponging from one reaction to another. Over time, that adds up to a lot less stress and negative emotion.


In the same way that our physical fitness also affects our mental health, our mental fitness ultimately affects our physical health and wellness.



What are the benefits of mental wellness?


Developing the skills for better mental wellness can benefit you and everyone around you.



  • Being present. In a mindful state, we can better retain information, listen, and be aware of, but not sabotaged by, distractions. This results in more enjoyment of life and better relationships and the ability to relate to others.

  • The ability to respond, not react. When we have more control over our automatic thoughts, we can choose to respond in a more rational and less emotive way. This improves our relationships and the way we think about the world and preserves more options in any environment.

  • Increased positive emotions: optimism. With increased awareness comes the ability to notice and reframe thoughts in more helpful ways. Kinder thoughts and compassion shape optimistic mindsets that lead to more positive behavior.

  • More confidence. With optimism, our relationship with ourselves becomes stronger. Self-esteem and self-efficacy - the belief in our abilities - increase, and we may focus more on our strengths. Self-compassion and empathy increase as a result of practicing mindfulness.



Here are some ways to get more mentally fit, starting today.


  1. Get physical exercise. The mind and body are interconnected. Just as mindfulness can relax the muscles of the body, working out can relax the mind and relieve stress and tension.

  2. Eat and drink smart. Stay hydrated as your brain needs water for optimal cognitive functioning. A variety of multi-colored fruits and vegetables daily supports optimal gut health and brain health.

  3. Meditate daily. Create a routine that works for you, and commit to it. Just fifteen minutes per day is enough to see significant changes over time. And like training a dog or working out, consistency is key.

  4. Keep a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as a word document on your computer or a physical, hand-written notebook. Update it regularly and keep it visible. Cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" helps to develop more positive emotions and shift our thinking toward optimism. Many studies show a positive correlation between improved health and optimism. The mind really does have an impact on our health overall.

  5. Make noticing new things part of your day. This can be as simple as setting a goal to notice three times when you have gone from sitting to standing throughout the day. It's a lot harder than it sounds. We are mostly in our unconscious, or automatic mind when we are doing this action. Noticing trains your brain for increased mindfulness.

  6. Practice savoring. Savoring is an intervention from Applied Positive Psychology. It involves slowing down during certain moments over a five-day period. These moments can include hugging a loved one, eating a meal, drinking a cup of coffee, the first breath of fresh air when stepping outside, or how good it feels to crawl into bed after a long day.

  7. Practice noticing your thoughts. Reframe wherever possible. Ask yourself: Is this helpful? Is this kind?

  8. Practice body awareness. Sit with your eyes closed or softly focused for five minutes and scan your body. Place your attention in each body part starting at the top of your head and working your way down to your toes. Wherever you notice tension, focus and breath consciously until the tension is released. Do this daily to increase awareness of what’s going on in your body. What does it want you to know? Train your attention to remain focused on specific points. My favorite body scan meditation is led by my favorite meditation guide David Ji. Click here to listen.


Remember, building mental skills and being mentally fit and strong doesn't mean that you'll always be happy or never suffer setbacks.

  1. Setting healthy boundaries. You have comfortable boundaries between various parts of your life and within your relationships. You naturally establish these and feel comfortable re-establishing boundaries when you notice something isn't working for you.

  2. Taking time for inner work. You make a regular practice of getting in touch with your emotions and values and checking in on your goals and alignment with your values.

  3. Exploring new ideas and interests. You feel calm, open, and curious. Things that are new or unknown are energizing rather than threatening or exhausting.

  4. Cultivating community. You are building and maintaining relationships that ground you in your values and help you challenge your thinking and beliefs. Community is both nurturing and supports your growth.

  5. Expanding your comfort zone. From a stable emotional and social foundation, you lean into growth and stretch yourself with new challenges. You are resilient in failure and learn from it.


Get started - With any kind of practice, regularity and consistency are crucial to build strength and fitness. A brain fitness program is no different.

Remember, in meditation, the aim is not to completely stop thought. Rather simply notice when you have been distracted and gently bring your attention back to the focal point, with a smile. When you do that, you are developing mental fitness. From there you can choose to put on Courage so you can take on anything that comes your way.