Desire Is the Enemy of Courage

James Walpole/ June 16, 2020

It sometimes occurs to me that my passions conspire to keep me from acting courageously.

It’s ironic: I want to spend my life doing interesting, adventurous things that require courage. And that very desire often keeps me playing it safe, taking the cautious path. At least, it seems that playing it safe is the “safest” way to get to those goals.

The Stoics would probably tell me that it is my desire for anything other than courage (or virtue more broadly) that keeps me from living courageously. I must desire only virtue and courage.

If you *must* have a boat, you will act in any way necessary for that boat. You will not act in ways that might endanger that.

If you *must* go to a certain college, you will act in any way necessary to get in and pay tuition. You won’t risk your acceptance letter.

If you *must* have another year of life, you will not put your life on the line, as courage sometimes requires.

Increase your “must haves” and your ability to be brave and act bravely declines accordingly. But the man who only desires to be brave? He will be the bravest of all.

Photo by Muzammil Soorma on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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