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The Courage of the Bushido

The Bushido is the code of conduct used by the Japanese samurai. From this philosophy, Stephanie Russell writes a book called One Flash of Lightning: A Samurai Path for Living the Moment. Among many ideas the book proposes, I want to explore what it means to have courage. Is courage the act of doing something death-defying or heroic? Is courage having the ability to do a selfless act? Russell says that the Bushido would exercise courage by “respond(ing) to what is needed, right now... Some days it is all about finishing a dull chore, or apologizing to someone you have injured. These too are among the small acts that heal a piece of the world.”


Based on this perspective, a life of courage could simply mean facing the events of the day. They are not stories told in fables or novels, but actions that make meaningful connections with others. For some, being courageous is simply getting out of bed and making breakfast. For others, it is sending that text message to your loved one and swallowing one’s pride by saying “I’m sorry.” Acting courageously can even mean accepting an apology when it would be easier to reject the person who reached out. 


Regardless of how one exercises courage today, consider where you stand in the experience. Is there a part of you that knows you need to act? Is there a piece of you that holds forgiveness and freedom for the person who needs to speak to you? Can your actions make a difference in your workplace or business you regularly frequent? With this in mind, take a step into courage and take action in healing the world around you.


Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.


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