In This Issue:

1. Ben's Note
2. Conference Call with Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. on 6/20/08
3. Main Article: The Positive Psychology of Courage
4. Two Positive Psychology Classes--one taught by Ben
5. Coach Training

1. Ben's Note

I love Sonja Lyubomirsky's new book, The How of Happiness for many reasons. A main one is that she lays out a specific, research-based, individualized plan for increasing happiness.

She will be teaching a class for us later this summer. I can't wait. In the meantime, you're invited to her interview next Friday, June 20, 2008.

Should you come?

Here's what Harvard's Dan Gilbert says about her book:

"Everyone has an opinion about happiness, and unfortunately, many of them write books. Finally we have a self-help book from a reputable scientist whose advice is based on the best experimental data. Charlatans, pundits, and new age gurus, should be worried and the rest of us should be grateful. The How of Happiness is smart, fun, and interesting--and unlike almost every other book on the same shelf, it also happens to be true."

Hope to see you at her interview next week. The information on it is in the next section below.


2. Conference Call with Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.


On June 20, 2008, we'll have an 80-minute question-and-answer call with Sonja Lyubomirsky author of the new book, The How of Happiness. She is brilliant. Her work is fascinating and, at times, counterintuitive. She will be one of the most engaging and articulate guests we've ever had.

TOPIC: A Q&A with Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. about Happiness and her new book, The How of Happiness. Meet Sonja. Talk with her about the latest in strategies for increasing happiness. Bring all questions.

DATE: Friday, June 20, 2008
TIME: 12:00 pm - 1:20 pm Eastern (New York Time)
11:00 am - Central (Chicago Time)
10:00 am - Mtn (Denver Time)
9:00 am - Pacific (San Francisco Time)
4:00 pm UTC/GMT
5:00 pm British Summer Time (London)

To register for the interview with Sonja (and to receive a digital recording of her interview), click here.

For Sonja's bio, click here.


3. The Positive Psychology of Courage

Defining Courage

"The secret of life is this:
When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them"

~Marcel France

Courage is a universally admired virtue, and courageous individuals in all cultures have survived across time to become the heroes of subsequent generations. But what is courage, and what is it not?

Philosophers have pondered these questions since antiquity. But psychologists, who had a significantly later start, have focused more on fear than on courage. The literature reflects this imbalance and contributes to the lack of consensus on a simple definition.


Persistence and Fear: Two Components of Courage?

Most philosophers and psychologists agree that courage involves persistence in danger or hardship. However, some argue that courage is synonymous with fearlessness, while others suggest that the presence or the absence of fear has nothing to do with courage.

Psychologist S. J. Rachman (1990) entered this debate with a definition of courage that takes into account three components of fear:

1) the subjective feeling of apprehension

2) the physiological reaction to fear (e.g., increased heart rate)

3) the behavioral response to fear (e.g., an effort to escape the fearful situation).

These components are imperfectly linked, and it is possible to experience one or two without another. The courageous person effects an uncoupling of fear's components by resisting the behavioral response and facing the fearful situation, despite the discomfort produced by subjective and/or physical reactions.


No Fear, No Courage

If a person is fearless, the behavioral component of fear is not at issue, for there is no reason to avoid or escape something that elicits no subjective or physical sensation of fear.

It seems unwarranted, therefore, to suggest that the fearless person is courageous. Such an assertion would make a virtue out of having an unresponsive autonomic nervous system in circumstances fearful to others.

Unless one experiences the sensation of fear, subjectively and/or physically, no courage is required.

As an astute observer of human behavior, Mark Twain, observed, "Courage is resilience to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear" (Fitzhenry, 1993, p. 110).


Different Types of Fear, Different Types of Courage

Whatever the circumstances testing courage, fear must be overcome.

The fear that accompanies physical courage relates to bodily injury or death. It is also possible for a fear of shame, opprobrium, or similar humiliations to spur physical courage, producing what is popularly called the "courage born of fear." In warfare, for example, some individuals may display physical courage because they fear cowardice. Or they may accept that they are cowards yet fear being recognized as such by others.

Moral courage, too, may relate to fear of others' adverse opinions. Looking foolish before peers, for example, is a common fear. But moral courage compels or allows an individual to do what he or she believes is right, despite fear of the consequences. (It should be noted that what is "right" is determined by the individual who chooses to take the risk, not by an observer.)

The fear that can summon moral courage takes many forms: fear of job loss, fear of poverty, fear of losing friends, fear of criticism, fear of ostracism, fear of embarrassment, fear of making enemies, fear of losing status, to name but a few potential human fears. In addition one may fear a loss of ethical integrity or even a loss of authenticity if he or she fails to act in accord with conscience (Putman, 1997).

As there are many variations of fear, there are many dimensions to moral courage, ranging from the social courage represented by Rosa Parks and Gandhi to the political courage represented, if infrequently, by elected officials. The opportunities to act with moral courage are numerous, and the fears calling for moral courage are as varied as individuals themselves.


Promoting Courage

Because courage is a universally admired virtue, most would also consider it an attribute to be promoted and fostered. Indeed, if any virtues are to be cultivated within a society, one might reasonably argue that courage should be foremost among them, for courage may be necessary to maintaining and exercising the other virtues. As C. S. Lewis observed, courage is "not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point" (Fitzhenry, 1993, p. 111).

Aristotle believed that an individual develops courage by doing courageous acts (Aristotle, trans. 1962), and there is current support for the suggestion that courage is a moral habit to be developed by practice (Cavanagh & Moberg, 1999). The view is compatible with Bandura's concept of self-efficacy in which successful performances (even vicarious ones) strengthen an expectation of further success (Bandura, 1977). Individuals are more likely to face a situation and attempt to cope with it if their previous experience gives them reason to believe they can meet the challenge.


Building Courage

If you or your clients would like to develop your courage, keep Aristotle in mind this week. Remember his view that we become courageous by being courageous! Design your own courage-building exercises by revisiting a life goal that is gathering dust. Is fear holding you back? How might you break down this goal into smaller steps, with each step requiring a progressively greater amount of courage?

There are no shortcuts, so run toward those cannons!

References and Recommended Readings

Aristotle. (1962). Nicomachean ethics. (M. Ostwald, Trans.). Indianapolis:Bobbs-Merrill
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York: Prentice Hall.

Cavanagh, G. F., & Moberg, D. J. (1999). The virtue of courage within the organization. Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, 1, 1-25.

Fitzhenry, R. I. (Ed.). (1993). The Harper book of quotations. New York: Harper

Miller, W. I. (2000). The mystery of courage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Putnam, D. (1997). Psychological courage. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 4, 1- 11.

Rachman, S. J. (1990). Fear and courage (2nd ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman.


4. Two Positive Psychology Classes

Starts Wednesday, 6/25/08
12:00 - 1:00 pm EDT
(New York time)
To Register or Learn More, Click Here

Starts Tuesday, 6/24/08
7:00 - 8:00 pm EDT
(New York Time)
To Register or Learn More, Click Here


5. Coach Traning

A. MentorCoach 31-Week Coach Training Program: Foundations

These MentorCoach Foundations Coach Training Programs are Launching (all identical; all available globally by teleconference):

I believe we have infused the Foundations Program with the latest Positive Psychology research and applications. We've also updated the "business side" of the program with several new resources to help get your business up and running with confidence and ease. Check the dates, there's a session starting soon!

* MCP 122 - Tuesdays at 8 pm, Eastern, begins June 17: Ann Marie McKelvey
* MCP 123 - Tuesdays at 1 pm, Eastern, begins July 1: Jeff Kaplan
* MCP 124 - Thurs at 7 pm, Eastern, begins July 24: Kim Kirmmse Toth
* MCP 124 - Fridays at 12 pm, EST, begins July 25, Ann Marie McKelvey

More Information and Time Zones.

B. MentorCoach Master Classes Launching:

* Appreciative Inquiry Coaching -- Tuesdays at 7:00 pm EDT, begins June 24
* Blue Sky Visioning Coaching -- Wednesdays at 12:00 pm EST, begins June 25
* ADHD Coaching -- Tuesdays at 8:00 pm EST, begins July 15, 2008

More information.



About Ben Dean

  Ben, Editor of Coaching Toward Happiness, is a coach,
  psychologist, founder of MentorCoach, and...



Copyright 2006-2008. Coaching Toward Happiness.  All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness Newsletter... It's free.