Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man. “Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible," he wrote. Today, it's one of the more neglected areas of positive psychology, but recent research has begun to move toward an understanding of what courage is and how we might be able to cultivate the ability to face our fear and make decisions with greater fortitude. Neuroscientists recently determined just how courage works in the brain, finding that a region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) is the driving force behind courageous acts -- a conclusion which could one day prove useful in treating anxiety disorders.
So how can we train our minds to act more courageously in everyday life? Other recent research on courage, which has shown that's it's not just about facing fear, but also about coping with risk and uncertainty (as Ernest Hemingway put it, courage is "grace under pressure.") And, it seems, we can make ourselves more courageous with practice and effort.
Below, six tried-and-true ways to loosen the grip of fear on your life -- and become more courageous than you ever imagined.