Can you be free and happy?
One of the noblest virtues we can possess in life is courage. What could we accomplish without it? When used for good, courage is a valued virtue (moral excellence) and a desirable attribute (a quality, character, or characteristic).
Courage as a virtue
Because of the frailty of a newborn, no one comes into this world with courage. But each of us is born with the potential to build it in our lives.
"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential." Marguerite Annie Johnson a.k.a Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
There is no more important virtue than courage. It would be impossible to maintain any other virtue without it. Kindness, generosity, honesty, forgiveness, selflessness, and all other virtues depend and rest on courage.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C. S. Lewis (1989-1963)
Building a life on courage
As we mature, the amount of courage we possess defines us. With much courage, we expand our life, abilities, and responsibilities. With little courage, each of these suffers.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
To accomplish practically anything in life requires courage. If you have no courage, you will shrink from trying something new, and you will have great difficulty picking yourself up to try again after failing. Without courage, how could you fully appreciate your achievements and push to achieve more?
"Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts." George F. Tilton (1861-1932)
What courage is and what it provides
You will take risks, grow, do more and become more with courage. Having courage does not mean you are without fear, but it does mean you will face fear and overcome it.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
It takes courage to push the limits, learn, and expand into new territories. All great discoveries come by pushing these limits. Think of Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake. Then there are so many other explorers, inventors, artists, musicians, and writers, each of which had great courage.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
It takes a great deal of courage to find and maintain freedom. Most of us believe it would be difficult to lose our freedom in America, yet it is slowly eroding. Should we ever lose the courage to speak up and do the right thing, heaven help us all.
Our country came into being because of the steadfast courage of our founding fathers. In a free country such as America, it can be too easy for some to forget how important freedom is and the sacrifice it took to create it. For now, our flag still flies high, and may it do so forever!
As our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner says in its final verses:
"O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
To keep our nation free, we need to look no further than those in history and the present. All those who fought and died for our freedom displayed great courage. Today many continue to lay their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Part of what makes America great is extending this fight for freedom throughout the world. All that is required is great courage, and thankfully we still have many courageous people in this country!
As mentioned in the subtitle, you may wonder what all this talk of courage and freedom has to do with being happy.
Can you imagine a life without freedom? Those of us who realize its value will do anything to preserve it. Could you be happy if you had no freedom? Freedom that comes from courage leads naturally to happiness!
The Declaration of Independence that led to our freedom states:
"all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Our forefathers knew that without freedom (liberty), we could never pursue the right to be happy. As an ancient historian and general once said:
"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage." Thucydides (c. 460 – 400 BC)
All you need is the courage to accept and appreciate your freedom. You can then pursue all of the happiness you could ever want!