My Courage Diet

Wishful thinking often leads to growth and change, which usually involves some level of risk.  

Risk tasking requires at least a little courage. 

And, as you may have read, my initial reaction to taking risks usually involves a bit of fear, so for many years, I have been using a series of activities that have allowed me to face my fears – except for dealing with really ugly, furry, jumping spiders. 

I am mentioning all this now, because on Saturday while I am risk-taking-away myself through another workshop; I will be referring to my “Courage Diet” and this blog.  So, I decided a little pre-posting is in order.  

The idea of combining the steps into a diet  came from the book The Joy Diet by life coach and Oprah magazine columnist, Martha Beck, which I read about seven years ago, and immediately started using to create more joy in my life.  Beck lists taking risks as the fifth step of her ten step plan to finding joy. She encourages us to take risks that make sense and are oriented in the direction we want to go. She has one caveat: the risk must be scary. (That part was easy for me!) 

I hope the “Courage Diet” helps and encourages you, as much as it has guided and supported me.  To get started, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper and the wish to change your life, even just a little. 

Courage Diet 

Step 1

Begin by writing a list of all the brave or difficult-to-accomplish things you have done.

List every single challenge you have faced and fear you have conquered. Remember, there was a time when tying your shoe, passing your driver’s test, and getting your first kiss, date, degree or job – seemed very, very scary. 

Try not to think, just write. Set a timer for 3 minutes – writing and creating a deadline are essential parts of the process. 

Then reread your list; fill-in any blanks; round-out the details and add any other brave acts that come to mind. 

Each day, pick one item on the list to review and revisit.

Take a minute to fully picture the scene and to feel the memories and sensations it brings. Sixty seconds of reminiscing can bring you a flush of positive feelings and a nice boost of courage. 

Step 2

Think of the music that gets you going and in a great mood.

For me “Eye of the Tiger” is a sure winner no matter what I am trying to conquer. Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” (no laughing, please) and Kenny Loggins’ “This is It” got me through my undergrad degree; Alaniss Morisette kept me focused through relationship upheavals; classical music helped me with my Masters and Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin and Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” kept me company in the Peace Corps. 

It’s your pick, your list, your music.

Now, put the music in a format that is easy to access and then, listen to it! Once, twice, three times a day – at home, in the car, running, walking, whatever it takes to keep you feeling motivated. (Shadow boxing in the shower is fully acceptable.) 

Step 3

Create a list of movies that have inspired you – movies based on real people, who have faced challenges, stepped in and out of their comfort zones, and achieved their dreams. “Rudy,” “Rocket Boys/October Sky,” “Cinderella Man,” and “Julie & Julia” are some of my favorites. 

Carve out time to watch these movies.

If you are short on movie-watching time go online to or to the official site of the movie, or see if the movie’s trailer is on Then read about the film or watch the trailer. Replay the film in your mind, remembering the scenes, music, and characters that made it special to you. 

If you cannot think of a single inspiring movie, go to the American Film Institute’s 100 Years 100 Cheersweb site and download their list of the 100 most inspiring movies.

You can also watch free and short inspirational videos at   One of my favorites – because of the music: “Eye of the Tiger” –  is

Step 4

Make a list of books or stories that have inspired you. Don’t forget your childhood favorites. 

Read them again. If you are crunched for time, read the first and last chapters or your favorite passages, or even an online summary. It only takes a few minutes or a quick glance to bring back the memories and the meaning they held for you. 

Step 5

Repeat diet steps 1-4, as necessary.  (Repetition does not imply defeat or failure in any way, but rather shows great bravery and resiliency for allowing yourself to face new and sometime scary life options. Seriously, that is what I tell myself and it seems to work.) 

Step 6

Please add anything you want to the diet or change it in any way that makes you ready to take on the world or that yucky spider in the corner. 

It is your diet now; go for it.

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