By January 18, 2013 33 Comments Read More →

Eight Signs You May be Living a Courage-Based Lifestyle

Z, Contributing Writer
Waking Times 

1. You are an advocate for changing fear, as opposed to fearing change

By transforming fear into courage, you understand that power is merely a stopgap that must be expiated, lest it corrupt absolutely. For any action to count as courageous it must first come from an understanding that the current situation has changed so drastically that the requirements for courage must change along with it. You understand, as Anais Nin did, that, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Here’s the thing: We are all afraid. We’re afraid of losing our privilege, afraid of imprisonment, afraid of repression, afraid of being the bad guy, and afraid of doing the wrong thing. Most of all we’re afraid of losing face in front of our peers. But when the fear of remaining the same outweighs the fear of change, your fear will be transformed into courage and your inertia will be transformed into action. A courageous person understands this. They have transformed their lives into an open-ended adventure. They have trumped fear with courage. They have trumped inertia with action. It all begins with the acceptance that nothing remains the same, and then being proactive about what it means to change.

2. You have decided to become a “well-armed lamb”

In Matrix-terms you have taken the red pill. You have chosen the pain that comes from knowledge over the bliss that comes from ignorance. And in the face of entrenched political parties, you have gleaned the wisdom from Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” You seek to consistently contest immoral, unhealthy votes, while continually seeking to arm yourself with increasingly more knowledge. Autodidactism becomes you. Self-knowledge and the ability to unlearn, de-school, and deprogram outdated modes of acquiring knowledge become paramount in a world of repression and suppression.

A courageous person learns how to use the “shoulders of giants” as springboards into higher states of knowledge. Only self-education has the power to pluck the plank of hypocrisy from the eye of blind allegiance; be that allegiance to the military, the police, or to xenophobic, patriotic pride. Here, education is autonomous, having little or nothing to do with monetary reward or “getting a job.” For an autodidact the pursuit of knowledge is an act of courage itself; knowledge is gained for the sake of knowledge, as opposed to the typical pursuit of titles, money, and careers. A well-armed lamb doesn’t seek titles, rank, or fame, because he/she understands that “people don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”

3. You have the ability to question authority

You can discern the difference between the virtue of dissent and the vice of anger. You understand that insurgency, the rarest and most courageous of acts, is seldom distinguished from rage, the most common and myopic. The subjugated role of the slave and the soldier puts this concept into perspective. Slaves, like soldiers, do what they’re told. Soldiers, like slaves, ask no questions. Both slaves and soldiers are spoon-fed their orders and their blind obedience keeps the whole violently, exploitative machine going. Most slaves, upon waking up from their slavery, will experience anger or rage when they discover that servitude has come at the expense of their freedom. Similarly, most soldiers (if they can get over their pride), will experience anger or rage toward a corrupt chain of command when they discover that what they were “fighting for” was a lie.

But, what if a slave decides to rise up and catalyze the entire notion of slavery? What if a soldier decides to turn the tables and question the chain of command? What usually happens is the slave gets shot and the soldier gets placed into a military prison, but with intelligent, forthright persuasion (ie. MLK, JFK, and Ghandi), one can change the world for the better. And if the fear of death or imprisonment should discourage you, see sign number one. To avoid death and prison, see sign number two.

4. You consistently fight to think outside of the current condition

You have the courage to push the envelope and emerge as a free being. If, as Robert Green Ingersoll suggested, “the intellectual advancement of man depends on how often he can exchange an old superstition for a new truth” then is it not also true that the evolution of man itself advances depending upon how often he can exchange outdated, parochial methods of governance with new, more holistic methods? And doesn’t this further suggest to us that personal growth depends upon how often we can stretch comfort zones, break mental paradigms, and think outside of the current box? In other words, is not growth the ability to courageously “move past” precondition in a healthy way?

Here’s the thing: all people are born into a condition. Whether it’s an environmental condition or a cultural one, people do not choose the condition they are born into. A courageous person constantly seeks to remold, adapt, and/or overcome their current condition; especially when it comes to perceptual condition. When people care more about how they are perceived than about what is threatening them, unhealthy reasoning abounds and irrelevant, outdated systems become entrenched. But if people can care more about what is threatening them than about how they are perceived, healthy reasoning becomes paramount and a healthier world becomes a possibility.

5. You live moderately so that others may moderately live

You have simplified your lifestyle, recognizing that a lightness of being allows for greater freedom of expression. Knowing that excess, hoarding and stockpiling are critical reasons why the world is in such disrepair, you purposefully and proactively shed any and all unnecessary baggage. You realize that once basic needs are met our desire to accumulate more “stuff” actually undermines our happiness.

You know what constitutes true courage is the openness and adaptability of your spirit, realizing that courage and adaptability are inseparable. With this understanding comes a plasticity and adaptability to change that those who live complex, materialistic lifestyles cannot know. The freedom gleaned from this “lightness of being” opens up one’s third eye, thereby transforming the ego-centric My-World into the eco-centric Our-World, while also revealing how nationalism creates divisive patriotic value distortions. You have the ability to transform boundaries into horizons, understanding that living a simple life blurs the lines drawn by governmental institutions. You live deliberately so that others may deliberately live. This means that your life is lived with flexible, conscientious, proactive intention as opposed to rigid, mindless, reactive tension. And you become a prime example for how to live courageously.

6. You have the ability to become a freedom unto yourself

By trumping inertia with direct, courageous action, you have become a force of freedom. The natural progression of inertia is nihilism, which eventually leads to tyranny. It is only by acting courageous in the face of inertia, that one thwarts the would-be tyrant within. Like Audre Lorde said, “The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.” In order not to allow their inner-tyrant to get ahold of the reigns, you have clipped the yoke of the status quo, knowing that had you not done so you would have just become another run-of-the-mill pawn in someone else’s game.

You understand the need to redefine the concept of courage itself, realizing that the courage your forefathers used may be outdated within the current zeitgeist. You appreciate that we are all unique and that courageous people are deliberately and intentionally unique, realizing that there is a purpose to their uniqueness. You have become a freedom unto yourself because you have tuned into your own uniqueness and you allow it to blossom, thereby redefining courage for your particular place in time. The fruit harvested from this blossoming will serve to nourish your spirit for the rest of your life, and will give you the aplomb needed to withstand the vicissitudes of change.

7. You have accepted that life is pain

You understand that suffering is a side effect of love. But you choose to love anyway, despite the pain. You have learned to suffer well, grasping that there is an art in suffering that only the happiest people know. You can whistle happily, and you can suffer happily, but unless you do something there is no happiness. Embracing the pain of life may seem crazy, but to the courageous person it’s mother’s milk. Like Nietzsche wrote, “There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness.”

You realize that comfort can lead to believing that being human is easy. Pain can lead to a wake-up call, or it can just hurt, but it can never lead to believing that being human is easy. And so you choose pain over comfort and find courage there. Accepting that pain is the hard center of love, you embrace it, soften it, and transform it into wisdom. It is this wisdom that will carry you through life’s vicissitudes and make you stronger for it. “Because consciousness must involve both pleasure and pain, to strive for pleasure to the exclusion of pain is, in effect, to strive for the loss of consciousness,” wrote Alan Watts. “The greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only lovable because they are changing. Music is a delight because of its rhythm and flow. Yet the moment you arrest the flow and prolong a note or chord beyond its time, the rhythm is destroyed. Because life is likewise a flowing process, change and death are its necessary parts. To work for their exclusion is to work against life.” A courageous person never works against life.

8. You are willing to be wrong

There’s an old African proverb that says, “Through mistakes one becomes wise.” You understand this, but you further understand that only by learning from mistakes and capitalizing on the knowledge gained will it bear fruit. This potential for wisdom is a courageous person’s goal. You understand the ironic paradox of right/wrong: that you’re more likely to be right by admitting that you’re more than likely wrong than if you were to declare that you’re more than likely right. This is because of human fallibility. Nobody is perfect. You accept this and, through much trial and error and perseverance, you roll with the punches of your own fallibility and therein discover your capacity for courage. Like Saint Augustine wrote, “fallor ergo sum.” I err, therefore I am.

By examining your sense of certainty in cases where you turn out to be objectively wrong, you can learn to think differently about your conviction in situations where you feel subjectively right. This takes an enormous amount of courage, because admitting that our worldview might be wrong, or incomplete, is one of the most challenging things a human being can do. There is always room for improvement. Having the courage to be wrong gives you the courage to admit when you are wrong. In the end you leave yourself open to further realizing your potential for truth. The secret of life is to appreciate the joy of being wrong about a great many things. Like the great Rollo May said, “We must be fully committed, but we must also be aware at the same time that we might possibly be wrong. Our commitment to an idea is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.”

About the Author

Z, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.  His recent works can be seen here and also found at Z’s Hub.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • Really loved this article! Will be sharing it on my blog!

  • …updating a link to my web site.

  • Bravo!

  • Really Great article. Thanx a lot.
    Matej D.

  • Jimmy

    and like all Governments have said “JUST say NO”
    i’m from the Government and i’m here to help?

  • 1. Fear nothing.
    2. There are alternatives, even to firearms, though, not as efficient.
    3. Question “authority”. Definitely. Nearly everything you were taught in school, is a huge lie.
    4. Don’t think only about problems – think about SOLUTIONS. More below.
    5. Hoarding useless stuff, isn’t good. Hoarding necessary stuff, might not be a bad idea, if you know what you are doing.
    6. Yes, for example, the old saying “knowledge is power” is INCORRECT. Only APPLIED knowledge is power. That is, knowledge put into ACTION.
    7. C’mon. Life is only PAIN, to those who for whatever reason, have continuous pain, from medical conditions. For most others, it’s a perceptual problem. To change your life, CHANGE YOUR MIND!
    8. It’s a SICKNESS to always need to be perceived as “correct”. A LOT of people suffer from this sickness. They never grow, or learn.


    Removing your money out of any TBTF Bank is ONE thing that you can do. However,
    there are many, many other things that we can all do, too!

    Here are just a few:

    1) BOYCOTT – learn this concept well, and EMPLOY IT – against those enslaving (or poisoning) you!
    3) QUESTION all ‘authority’ (Big Business/Government, Big Religion, Big Media, etc.)
    4) Get out, and/or stay out, of DEBT!
    5) USE CASH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Avoid using credit, debit, and customer loyalty cards, that track your every purchase, and compromise your privacy.
    6) Bank at a local credit union! Or, at a small, unaffiliated local bank.
    7) VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS! (What do you support, with your time, attention, energy, and money?)(Buy true ORGANIC, & MADE IN USA! Let’s put AMERICANS back to work!)
    8) Contact your Representatives on CRITICAL issues: such as “END THE FED!”
    9) Re-read the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It isn’t about hunting. It’s about government tyranny, and protecting yourself from it!
    10)Buy (products) Made in U.S.A.
    11)Invest in precious metals, primarily SILVER (and gold) bullion, and anything of necessity that can be used as BARTER.
    12)Buy ORGANIC food! Support your local Organic Farmer, food store or Co-op!
    Support the true HEROES of organic food production (on the right side, of the following poster:
    13)Start your own garden using NON-GMO, non-hybrid seeds!
    14)Pray or meditate – reduce your stress! Stress is the silent killer, that opens your body to bacterial, viral, and free radical attack!
    15)Read a book, you know, an actual book! Open your mind!
    16)Exercise your brain muscle!
    17)Listen to soothing classical, jazz, ambient or other music you thoroughly enjoy!
    19)Take a high-quality daily multi-vitamin

  • Victor Gagnon

    A brilliantly written article with so much truth. Definitely to seek change one must have courage.

  • ksense

    Just to the right of this article is an ad that says “Thirty Seven Things You Must Hoard” …… funny! Just below that is an ad for Russian women from “Dream Marriage”. Ever heard of human trafficking??

  • Truer words have seldom been spoken–specially during these trying times. More and often Z

  • This is an excellent primer on cultivating wisdom founded upon Truth, Justice, & Liberty for All, looking for life and love enhanced in the pursuit of happiness. I hope this gets wider publication elsewhere.

  • Katherine

    Magnificent! Insightful!! Wise…TY for this post…

  • Democracy isn’t two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for lunch. It’s billions of sheep peacefully, cooperatively deciding what to do about the newly discovered few wolves in sheep’s clothing that turned our beautiful Earth into Hell.

    What We call democracy today is a bankster deception that makes a mockery of very concept of democracy. So, let’s call it demockery. Democracy will be a publicly owned, interactive, free system of governance designed to transparently define and fulfill the true will of the Governed regarding anything that affects them. As the Peoples’ will is publicly defined for the first time, it will automatically begin to manifest.

    The claim that democracy has ever been a reality is pure bankster propaganda. We, the over-governed, certainly never made the democratic decisions to have continuous war, to widen the wealth gap, to institutionalized crime, to incorporate government (or Us) or to reward the banksters with trillions of dollars for sabotaging the global economy as their banks continuously foreclosed Our homes in which they had NO INVESTMENT whatsoever.

    Having our friends and neighbors rule Us will be infintely better than leaving Our rule in the very hands of the few banksters who’re waging their secret, eternal War On Us using every conceivable covert weapon. After all, only We will always have Our best interests at heart. Only We can’t be bought off! Our will be done at long last!

    It’s time to tried out genuine democracy ~ Our unity ~ our masters worst nightmare. We’ll run things Our selves… but from our easy chairs at Our convenience from our personal reality control consoles at’s Issue Forum System or a system like it. Let’s responsibly assume our rightful power, create real democracy, get reality firmly under Our control and ensure peace, justice, security and prosperity for Posterity!

    • “It’s billions of sheep peacefully, cooperatively deciding what to do about the newly discovered few wolves in sheep’s clothing that turned our beautiful Earth into Hell.” Love this. And I’m with you, Al.

    • Pam

      We already have billions of sheep peacefully, cooperatively deciding what to do – nothing. In sociology, critical mass is the minimum number of people with the same beliefs and willingness to act, required to sustain a chain reaction. At this point, the critical mass is in their corner. We really only need a few million people peacefully, cooperatively deciding to change things and the momentum will shift. This is evident in the awareness of and the changes being made in ecological damaging behaviors. Hopefully, this will lead to holding the ‘big boys’ accountable and then we will see a seismic shift in other areas these wolves misbehave as well.

  • Siddharta

    “Any philosopher who “accepts that life is pain” is not a real philosopher at all.”

    It seems you’d need to do some homework. One of the main religions is based on the understanding that life is pain (or “suffering”), and through certain steps we can free ourselves from that. This religion is a Philosophy in the very meaning of the word.

  • Bob

    Courageous? Hiding behind your weapons? Yeah, sounds like courageous pussies to me.

    • R

      are you a liberal?

  • Afshin Nejat

    Life in this world is pain, not life as such. No real philosopher would assume that “this world” is automatically “all there is to it”. In fact, a courageous philosopher would NEVER take ANYTHING at face value. Just the fact that such a thing as “face value” exists indicates a framework where duplicity has ample opportunity to manifest as a “corruption” arising from the “power” to misrepresent things for one’s own advantage. Any philosopher who “accepts that life is pain” is not a real philosopher at all.

  • paul

    Wonderfully written.

  • Steve N

    The people who really enjoy life are the ones who go out and enjoy it and don’t get involved if you see something wrong. You just let the politicians screw us and you go to the beach. Some people spend hours a day reading all the ways the politicians screw us and they inform people. The true lover of life is one who sits on the beach and drinks wine.
    The smart lovers of life walk all over people. They use people for what they can get out of them. When they are done with them they discard them. Life is dog eat dog and if you are lucky you get in with the right people and if you get in with the wrong people you better be street wise.
    You have to avoid anyone who doesn’t make you a better person.

    • “Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?” –Hunter S. Thompson

  • I loved this article! Thank you

  • abinico warez

    So if you have none of the signs, what does that mean?

    • Bob

      To me, it means your coming around to it:) you’ll never find it, but one day you find it already in you.

    • R

      you are a sheep

      • Dr Bonnie

        a well-armed sheep!

    • Victor Gagnon

      Maybe you just look harder for them

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