The Character Movement

Student sharing her act of courage

Three ways to practice courage

At Youth Frontiers, we define courage by breaking it down to its Latin root: cor. Cor means heart. But what do our hearts have to do with courage?

Before we can understand what courage really means, we have to reflect on what our hearts mean to us. Hearts symbolize so much of the human experience. We personify them to no end — they can leap to our throats, sink to our stomachs, skip a beat, sing, even break. We often think of our hearts as the cores of our beings, the embodiments of our true selves, the seats of our individualism … but in the scope of this application, most importantly, our hearts serve as our moral compasses. Defined as such, to act with courage really means to follow your heart.

But follow our hearts where? And how?

Three ways to practice courage:

On our Courage Retreat, we ask students to make a commitment to practice courage in one of these three ways:

1. Be you.

2. Make a change.

3. Stand up.

Be you. 

No sweat, right? Wrong. This category of courage goes far beyond embracing your personal style, quirks and passions — which are absolutely part of it — to being the kind of person you want to be, to taking care of who you are at your core. Being you means remaining true to what you know is right by living a life of character in private and in public. It means not altering the way you talk, act or think in order to be liked by others or for personal gain, but instead remaining rooted in your values.

Make a change.

Having the courage to be ourselves does not mean we are perfect. In fact, it takes immense courage to take a hard look at the way you are treating yourself and others, realize that you have detrimental habits or behaviors, and then decide to make a change. This change could look like leaving a friend group that’s having a negative influence on you, stopping to breathe before reacting out of anger, or starting to actively encourage those around you.

Stand up. 

Possibly the hardest act of courage. To stand up for others requires that you be grounded in your values (be you). It asks that you recognize something in your sphere of influence should not be tolerated any longer (make a change). Ultimately, it demands that when you are faced with a moment of choice in which you could run away from the problem or stand your ground, that you stand.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, I understand. But take heart! Courage gets easier with practice. Try being you, making a change or standing up in one situation this week. No matter how big or small of an action you take, remember that your courage counts.

We’d love to hear how you are practicing courage. Connect with us

This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is courage.

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