Being brave just means being able to face fears, even when you don't want to. Facing fears is never easy for anyone, but by practicing facing your fears, one diminishes the level of fear they feel! Out of all the traits in the Universal Values, Bravery and Persistence is probably the easiest to master since they are linked more with habit and worldview rather than with inherent characteristics. The bad news is, however, that it can also be one of the more painful traits to work on.

The best, and perhaps only exercise to increasing your bravery is to practice facing your fears. Now, all of us have fears, and some of them are more relevant to our personal growth than others. Overcoming your fear of approaching members of the opposite sex might be a more relevant goal to your personal growth than overcoming your fear of spiders, for instance. It's best to work on the most relevant fears first, but if you do want to work on one of the other fears first for some reason, any act of bravery helps toward your overall goal.

Now, after you begin doing brave things, bad things might begin to happen. Once you begin applying for jobs, you might get rejected. Those members of the opposite sex might reject you cruelly. That person you let grow close to you might hurt you. Never, ever use these results as an excuse to give up on your quest for bravery, however. If you never apply for work, you won't get a job. If you never talk to potential romantic partners, and get those rejections, you will never meet anyone. If you never let anyone get close, you will never have a fulfilling life. This pain is a necessary part of life, and with the right attitude and work on the other virtues, the pain of rejection or failure will subside and be bearable.

When practicing bravery, however, remember that wisdom is also a goal of yours. Don't do anything that will hurt you in the long run, or hurt the ones you love.

While there is only one way to gain bravery, here are some ideas on how just to go about it:


  • Make a List of Your Fears and Choose One: Try to make a list of everything that you are afraid of, everything you can think of. Since we are not always our own best judge, include things that other well-meaning people believe you are afraid of. Rank these fears according to how greatly they are limiting your fulfillment, and work on the most limiting ones first. Seek ways to face this fear every day as you work on this trait (unless it is clearly impossible).
  • Do the Research to Ease the Pain: Failure and rejection is painful, but you might fail less if you do the research first. If you are afraid of meeting or talking to people, there are resources to learn how to be better at this (and maybe even clubs or meetings in your area). If you are afraid to start your own business, do everything you can to make sure that your attempt doesn't flop. You might need self-help books or counseling if your fear is intimacy with your own spouse. Do whatever you need to do to make success possible, because bravery won't work for you if you don't do the work needed to succeed.
  • Imagine Your Bravery Before You Show It: Imagining how you will act bravely and successfully in a given situation will help you act when it's time to act. You will be more confident and better prepared.

Your Record

Every time you have an opportunity to face a fear for your own (or a love one's) benefit, then this is a "fault." Make goals based on the activities above. Every time you fail to show bravery or seek out opportunities to be brave according to your goals is a fault.


The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity.

Mahatma Ghandi, Indian Philosopher, promoted nonviolent protest

Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.

Omar Bradley, American General

A true knight is fuller of bravery in the midst, than in the beginning of danger.

Sir Phillip Sidney, English Statesman

Golden Mean


Recommended Reading

Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway — by Susan Jeffers

This book was written by a psychologist, and offers a simple plan of action to understand and conquer your fears.

Feel the Fear...and Beyond: Mastering the Techniques for Doing It Anyway — by Susan Jeffers

This book expounds on Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway, and offers concrete exercises for facing fears.

Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery — by Chogyam Trungpa

An approach to facing fear from the Shambhala Buddhist perspective. All about being brave while still being loving, caring, and open to others.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid. Franklin P. Jones