Thursday, January 11, 2018

Make 2018 Your Year of Courage




You know how in Chinese astrology, the years are given different labels? Year of the Rat, Year of the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, and so on. This year, 2018, is the Year of the Dog. People born in the Year of the Dog are said to have the best traits of human nature. Dog-lover that I am, I agree! And courage is certainly one of those traits.

So what if you decided to make 2018 your personal Year of Courage?

No, not courage in the sense of channeling your inner warrior (although that certainly has its place) but courage in the original meaning of the word: with heart.

What if you had the courage to accept yourself exactly as you are? Seeking improvement, sure, that’s what all those New Year’s Resolutions are about, but what if you started by accepting yourself in your present condition/situation. Loving who you have grown yourself to be, including the you who now wants improvement.

What if you had the courage to speak up for yourself, rather than defend yourself after the fact, or remain far too silent for far too long? And what if you spoke up for yourself from a place of courage – of heart – where you don’t need to scream, shout or hide your truth. Where you thought first about the most effective way to express yourself before you opened your mouth, which involves a lot more deliberate thinking and a lot less drama.

What if you had the courage to listen not just with your ears, but with your heart? What if your primary aim in listening was to understand what the other was saying. Not only the words, but the meaning, the importance of the communication to that person. What if you had the courage to ask for elaboration, for “more” in order to better understand, to dig deeper, rather than figuring out what your response will be before they even finish talking.

What if you had the courage to allow your friends, loved ones, and significant others, to lead their lives in the way that best suits them? What if you showed more interest in what gives them joy than you do in criticizing whatever you think they are doing “wrong”?

What if you had the courage to see that your way isn’t the only “right” way, that there are as many ways to live a fulfilling life as there are individuals striving to do so? What if you stopped trying to change your friends and loved ones, or control their behavior, not out of “Fine! Do it your way!” but out of love, out of respect for their right to make their own choices. Out of your courageous heart.

Courage. A small word – seven letters. A powerful word, because it takes all your heart, to be courageous.

Try it. Make this your year of Courage, and watch your life transform.

(Originally appeared in the Huffington Post. For more HP articles by Dr. Nelson, go to  http://bit.ly/2CRxN6W).