January 08, 2014 | 11:51 AM Benjamin Franklin believed in setting aside one week for the perfecting of a new habit. At the beginning of every year, he listed 52 faults he wanted to eliminate or virtues he wanted to cultivate and then worked hard on one a week.
To be realistic, perfecting a new habit is going to take most of us longer than one week, but trying on that new behavior, like a new pair of shoes, for one week, could become that difficult first step to getting where we want to be.
In Sartre's "No Exit," when the doors to hell are flung open and the captives are free to leave, no one steps out. Hell's denizens have settled in.
What keeps us in our private hells? Most often it's a shortage of courage. The word courage comes from cor, the Latin word for heart. It takes a lot of heart to take that first step out of our private prisons into the great unknown where we know something even worse could be lurking.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote: "Is there anything as horrible as starting a trip? Once you're off, that's all right, but the last moments are earthquakes and convulsions, and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock."
Courage isn't the absence of fear. Courage is defined in the Free Online Dictionary as "the ability to do something that frightens us." It's Charlie Brown working up the nerve to walk over to the little red-haired girl's house and deliver the valentine he bought her. It's little David going after Goliath with a slingshot and five pebbles. It's Moses, the reluctant leader, ordering the most powerful man on earth: "Let my people go."
John Wayne said it best: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." Dr. Wayne Willis