Scaredy cats can learn to bark
People who are chronically fearful don't tend to be overly happy. It's just one of those things. Fear brings worry, sadness and that horrible ‘trapped’ feeling that puts a pit in your stomach and a yucky taste in your mouth. There's no place for happiness. It just can't live in a fearful environment.
What's an antidote to fear? Courage.
(Once again, this may not be something you expected to read about in a journal about how to be happier, but sometimes life just isn’t what you expect, right?)
How do we get courage? Some of us are naturally shy, timid and fearful. We worry about what everybody else thinks. Some of us have had all our courage beaten out of us. Other people have taken our bravery and left us with the belief that we can’t do it, we’ll never be happy, and no-one would ever love us.
Well, that’s rubbish. And here's why.
Courage can be grown, and re-grown.
If you've never had courage, you can get some. If you had it and lost it, you can get it back. It's not easy - I'm not into making rash promises, but it is possible.
The way to do it is to take really small steps, just one at a time.
You start off by doing one tiny, brave thing – maybe even something that’s so small anyone else wouldn’t even notice it. Maybe it's smiling at a stranger, or saying something to the lunch lady at school. Think of something that's scary for you and pick out the tiniest, easiest part of it. Then do it.
When you’ve done it, you give yourself a high five and a pat on the back, because you did it! Even if it felt hard, you still did it. And even if you tried, but didn't quite make it this time, you can still high five yourself for thinking and trying.
This is building courage.
When you’ve done five tiny brave things, you can do five slightly bigger things. And then more bigger things than that. You’re building courage muscles. They need practice and exercise, but I can promise you they’ll get stronger every time you use them. And as you get braver and use your courage, happiness will develop with it.
Now it's your turn to think and write.
What are you scared of?
Where has your fear come from?
What is something you'd like to do, but you're too scared to even start?
What is one tiny brave thing you could do tomorrow, to start building your courage muscles?
- An excerpt from Cecily Anne Paterson's forthcoming book: How to Be Happy. Copyright 2017 Cecily Anne Paterson. Please do not use without permission.