Sunday, January 1, 2012

Courage to face the future

One of my favorite blogs is Goodlife Zen. In her early November article Mary Jaksch defines courage as ‘the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.’

courage-1 The article lists seven tips to increase your courage. I felt many of these are appropriate for those of us living with Kennedy’s Disease and added a few comments to her bullet points.

Tip #1: Start something new.

It’s hard to be a beginner again. It takes courage to learn something new and to be a newbie in amongst more experienced people. [As our abilities to perform many physical functions wane, it is important to try other things that can still be enjoyed and accomplished. Start a new hobby. Join a club that organizes events that you enjoy. Anything new will challenge you mentally. And a wonderful side benefit is gaining new friends with similar interests.]

Tip #2: Go somewhere you’ve never been before.

Too often our life is on a track that has little variation. Do you always take the same way home from work? Or go to the same restaurant for a meal? Try going somewhere new. [Yes, I definitely know that traveling or going to places new becomes more difficult over time. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Initially, be conservative in your thoughts and expectations. Pick someplace locally and then regionally. The point is just getting out and about with family and friends and hopefully making new friends.]

Tip #3: Say what is in your heart.

Do you sometimes suppress the true words that want to come out? I’m sure we all do that at times. What holds us back is fear. A good way to train your courage is to say something positive about a person – even if you’re nervous of how they’ll receive what you say. [We still have something to say and we need to be heard. Just because we are no longer physically capable of standing up (for long), that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up for our rights and the rights of others (see Tip #5).]

Tip #4: Speak to someone you don’t know.

Imagine being at a party where you don’t know most people. That can feel daunting. You’ll feel a lot better, if pluck up your courage and start a conversation with someone you don’t know. Ask them what they do, where they live, or what they are passionate about. [Almost weekly I hear from someone living with Kennedy’s Disease who feels isolated (alone). That feeling must be terrible. Make a point of talking to someone, anyone, who you meet or want to meet. Don’t let your fears hold you back. Make a positive comment, ask a question, do whatever it takes to break the ice with a stranger. You never know, he/she might become your friend.]

Tip #5: Stand up for someone else.

If you see someone being treated unfairly, what do you do? ... Try standing up for someone else – you will feel your courage grow. [There are all kinds of victims and those of us living with Kennedy’s Disease need to become advocates for these people. See my comments to #3 above]

Tip #6: Learn to shout.

... I’ve experienced that many people have forgotten how to shout. Their self-esteem is so low that they don’t know how to raise their voice. I suggest learning to shout. You can go to martial art classes, walk on the beach, or shout into a pillow. The shout that comes from the belly is a tremendous source of energy and courage. [At some point in our life we were probably told to hold it down. However, shouting can work wonders in relieving stress and generating energy. Did you ever play any sports? What were you taught to do in difficult situations? Shout! Yell! Get pumped! Try it sometime. It might make a world of difference.]

Tip #7: Dress how you want to.

Our society has strong rules about how we are supposed to dress at certain occasions. Maybe you have a dress-code at work that you need to follow. Make sure that you intentionally dress how you like when it’s leisure time. Express yourself through your clothing. [I use to wear a three-piece suit and looked good in it. I found that my suits just don’t look the same when I am sitting in a wheelchair. You can still look good, however, but it might take some experimentation. The key message here is to not let your dress decide whether you participate or not. Get involved!]


Everything mentioned above has one important message. Participate, become engaged, and don’t let your fears and health issue hold you back any more. There is always something to do, someone to meet, something of interest, etc. if we just have to courage to take the first step (or the first rotation of the chair’s wheel).

Happy New Year!


  1. Dear Bruce,
    Thanks for your article.
    It is very useful. thank you.

    Because in China, it is not allow to visit the .
    May I have a request?

    Can I copy and paste your article? For example, the Mainland China ALS Forum Or a blog site in mainland China. (I will marked the source)

    Hope to receive your reply. thank you very much.
    Happy new year!

    ps: Mainland China ALS Forum :

  2. Good to hear from you and thanks for the New Year's wishes.

    If I understand correctly, you want to add some of my blog topics to the Mainland Chine ALS site and possibly other similar sites.

    No problem. The more people we can help the better.

  3. Dear Bruce,

    Thank you very much~

    Wish you happy everyday~! 英!



Please feel free to comment. By taking a moment to share your thoughts you add much to these articles. The articles then become more than just something I said or believe. In addition, by adding a comment, you might just be helping the next reader by sharing your opinion, experience, or a helpful tip. You can comment below or by sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.