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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).
Top customer reviews
Especially engaging, the easy to navigate courage-enhancing applications immediately add to your personal power. Chock full of vulnerable vignettes from Biswas-Diener's personal challenges with his own fear monsters, "Courage" is a raw, riveting read. Would you jump out of an airplane to overcome your doubly dreadful fear of heights and flying? Biswas-Diener puts his money where his mouth is. His story-telling and magic metaphors are worth buying this book. He mirrors courage for you on more than one level. He teaches you to look into your own mirror to crank up your courage. Literally. No kidding. He tells you how!
Please read the edgy, language rich Contents page. Your eyebrows will raise and your courage appetite will be whetted. See how your curiosity about fear and failure is piqued. Explore how to magnify your courage. Biswas-Diener tells you specifically how. Terrific, concise commentary all backed by cutting edge science. Your deserve to read this compelling courage engendering treat.
Biswas-Diener's discussion of moral as well as physical courage is illuminating. Find out why most courageous people do not define themselves as courageous and why. Truly fascinating.
"Courage" is cool, comprehensive, and clever. It helps you recognize your own courage as well how to banish your fear culprits. It advises how to recognize your fears, tackle them with panache, and celebrate your victories. It enlightens how you can spot fears in others, too, and help them ramp up their character strengths to jump over their highest hurdles.
As a positive psychology coach and clinical psychologist, this book hits a home run for me. I have recommended it to my clients, and they have raved about it. I love enthusiastically recommending a book that is scientifically based, yet easy to read and packed with real-life learning. This brilliant, lively, language rich book is practical yet immensely relevant.
Recommend this winner to everyone! A+ read.
But what made this book work for me was how the scientific and human aspects of this courage were masterfully woven together in a way that deciphered and demystified courage. I could clearly understand how courage was a skill that could be learned--and the book's structure made that learning easy to grasp. I especially liked the cultural references and sensitivity that Biswas-Diener brings to bear--by showing how different cultures put their own unique stamp on how they understand and engage in the process of courage.
As a mindfulness teacher and author of mindfulness books, this book has helped me see how courage is very much a mindfulness practice, a test of how present we can be with our own fears, our willingness to act, and our ability to reduce harm through moral courage. What I very much value and appreciate in The Courage Quotient is that it is a very practical, hands-on book that explores how each of us can manifest bravery into each moment.
We need more books about courage, and I'm going to be recommending The Courage Quotient to anyone who wants to understand that they may already possess a lot more courage than they give themselves credit for. I am excited to explore the application of courage in my own life, and to share this book's clear findings with others.
p.s. Below please find some favorite passages of mine for your reference.
Aristotle and Plato were of the opinion that courage was one of the four cardinal virtues, along with justice, temperance, and prudence, and could be perfected only in relation to the others. Plato wrote an important dialogue called Laches....he considers courage both the ability to "stand and fight" on the one hand and "the ability to endure" on the other. He also asks a question about the nature of courage: can animals be brave? pg27-8
People who focus on progress are more likely to enjoy working toward goals, and those who focus on the potential impact of failure are more likely to experience worry. Your focus is a choice. pg135
The very experience of fear itself is the tip off moment, the signal that a possibility for action is opening up and so a choice needs to be made. pg147