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The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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Two courage lists from Robert Biswas-Diener, author of The Courage Quotient
Although bravery is, stereotypically, a masculine trait, women also show a wide variety of courage. Women have high rates of live organ donation, overseas volunteerism, and challenging advocacy roles.
In one study executives had lower rates of fear and a higher willingness to act than did police officers, fire fighters and other emergency personnel.
- People living near the Equator
In an international survey people living near the Equator in countries such as Nigeria and Brazil had higher average rates of bravery than did their counterparts in Europe and North America.
- Whistle blowers
It is risky to speak out against an injustice, especially when there might be negative personal consequences. One study reveals that people who will not participate in immorality are higher on empathy, higher on moral reasoning, and able to evaluate whether actions make sense in a given context.
Although people normally think about dramatic acts of heroism when thinking about courage each of us has personal history of overcoming fear and anxiety. If you have ever gotten married, taken a new job, moved to a new city or had a child you have experienced an act of bravery.
When most people begin the process of self-improvement-whether that is trying to become happier or more courageous-they think about what they could do differently. This rush for "better" can sometimes cause folks to overlook the current successes in their lives. I recommend taking stock of the times you have already acted bravely: speaking p on the behalf of someone else, moving to a new job, getting married or having children, or overcoming a personal fear such as flying.
- Manage your fear.
This is, seemingly, the most straightforward piece of advice related to courage. If fear holds you back then managing that fear opens up the potential for moving forward. Fear comes in different types and each is associated with a different solution. Fear of failure, for example, can be counterbalanced by taking stock of progress. The antidote to fear of rejection is to shift the focus from the self toward the situation. Breathing and relaxation techniques can also be effective.
- Get angry.
Many people avoid the emotion of anger because they feel it is destructive, and it certainly can be. Anger is also an emotion that helps us protect ourselves or those we care about when our rights are being threatened. One study shows that people in an angry mood were more optimistic about the outcomes of a risk. In essence, they were more courageous. Perhaps you have seen athletes similarly "psych themselves up" for a competition by getting angry.
- Get a lucky charm.
People have a natural tendency to think magically; to believe in superstitions or luck or other phenomena that are not proven. You can leverage this natural tendency to your advantage where courage is concerned by adopting a personally meaningful lucky charm. One stuck showed that people who had a lucky charm outperformed others on memory and golf tasks! Interviews with courageous people yield the truth that many employ such a charm to boost their confidence in anxious situations.
- Embrace failure.
Most people do not like failure because it stings, psychologically speaking. People naturally avoid failure and folks with a perfectionist leaning find it especially abhorrent. Mistakes and failure can be beneficial in that they make us more mindful, help us learn, offer us a chance to reflect, and make us appear more authentic to others. Instead of letting a fear of mistakes hold you back try embracing them. Small mistakes and low stakes failure are a part of life.
From the Inside Flap
Scientific studies confirm what most of us have suspected all along: that those who are bold enough to go after what they want enjoy greater success and happiness. Most of us think of courage as something that "you're either born with or you're not." But as Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener demonstrates in this illuminating and practical new book, most of us are more courageous than we realizeand bravery can be learned.
Biswas-Diener begins with the premise that courage is more about managing fear than not feeling it. As he shows, all of us display some form of bravery in our daily lives (in fact, studies reveal that women exhibit courage in higher numbers than men). He then goes on to describe the different types of people who demonstrate bravery, from general and individual courage to civil courage. Drawing on original research and his interviews with individuals from across the globe, Biswas-Diener helps readers raise their own "courage quotient," offering proven strategies to manage fear and boost the willingness to act.
This fascinating book shows how courage is viewed differently in various cultures, from Japan and Norway to Africa and Israel, and provides a wealth of compelling anecdotes that inspire personal insights for readers. Throughout the book, the author introduces concepts such as "courage blindness" and "personal courage" and puts the focus on the importance of magical thinkingas well as failurein the bravery process. Readers will discover how to increase courage in their own personal lives (overcoming private fears like standing up to a bully or speaking up in a college lecture course) as well as in the public realm (standing up for what is right in the "face of fire," speaking truth to power, and taking appropriate financial risk).
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Top Customer Reviews
Biswas-Diener breaks courage into two separate and independent processes - 1) Managing fear and 2) Willingness to act. Both can be attacked separately and as long as willingness to act exceeds fear you can be brave. This was particularly well illustrated in his example of the passengers of United flight 93 (the 9/11 flight that crashed in Pennsylvania when the passengers tried to take back the plane from the hijackers).
The book is broken into 4 parts:
Part I - A Crash Course in Courage
Part II - Increasing Courage by Controlling Fear
Part III - Increasing Courage by Boosting the Willingness to Act
Part IV - Conclusion
Each part has a few chapters and each chapter ends with a short section summarizing the chapter and telling you what you can do to implement the findings.
I found the book useful and a bit unusual in the sense that courage is not a topic common in the self-help literature. I applaud the author in not stretching his topic unnecessarily. Biswas-Diener says courage is important because it leads to a fuller lived life and that it can be learned. He supports that stand very well in this fine book.
I recommend this book to anyone because I think we can all do with a bit more courage.
However, for some readers, the above information may not feel like enough. The author's approach may feel a little too cool and objective; what's missing is a deeper understanding or treatment of a certain underlying, ongoing passion: the passion of Gandhi, the passion of Martin Luther King, the passion of someone who is able to grab hold of him or herself and suffer and sacrifice for a higher purpose, over and over again, perhaps for years. Passion, accountability, and conviction based on a rock solid certainty about oneself and the importance of a cause...these and other qualities come to mind.
While this book is very good at what it does, (especially chapters 7 and 8) for some readers this book may seem to talk about courage more than inspiring it...3.5 stars.
Biswas-Diener gives tips on increasing courage, I felt like most of these suggestions are common sense things that we already know, such as goal setting, confronting fear, and coping with failure. Biswas-Diener does a good job of explaining his ideas, but I think there could have been more depth or insight into his writing. In short, this is a very readable short volume that does a good job of starting a conversation about courage. I think it is worthwhile for people who would like to take small steps toward increasing their courage in an effort to change their lives. But I think it does not give a full treatment of courage and feel that there is much more in this area to think about (but then again, I am an academic and a psychologist so you might take this last comment with that in mind).