How To Have Courage

I get scared when I feel “stuck” in my life. I get scared when I meet a new friend and I’m afraid he won’t like me.

I get scared when a woman I love is quiet for a bit too long. At dinner parties I get scared when I have nothing to say. I get scared when people I care for are hurt.

I’m afraid of what people are saying about me behind my back. I’m afraid that when I’m an old man I will be too sick to move and nobody will visit me.

I want to practice courage.

Courage is caring but not having to care. Helping but not forcing. Saying no without being afraid of consequences.

Doing your best every moment but letting go of the results. Being loving with no expectation of love.

You become what you practice.

I get attached to things because of fear of losing them. Fear leads to anger. Anger ruins lives.

Courage is letting them go and simply waiting for what happens next.

I want to be what I practice. Courage risks fear.


No matter what, my little baby, it will be ok. Shhhh. You will grow up and fly away and I will never stop loving you.

  • James, I found your site because I’m an avid reader of Mark Manson’s and some of my friends from there recommended you.

    I’ve read a lot of your stuff. I like your style, even if not all of it resonates with me.

    This post though, it was great, and I appreciate it’s timing very much.

    Keep doing what you are doing, it’s great.

  • Taylor

    Short but very accurate. This is why I meditate.

  • Alexander Becket

    This line “Courage is caring but not having to care. Helping but not forcing. Saying no without being afraid of consequences” sounds like it could have come from the Taoteching.

    • PlinytheElder

      I think Lao Tzu would follow James’s blog. Much of what you find here
      is very Zen, which is what keeps me coming back.

  • I’ll be honest with you, James. I’m nowhere near as courageous as people think I am. My friends, family, people who follow my journey think I’ve got this iron will, but I’m scared as hell.

    I’m afraid I’m not the person I think I am. I’m scared that I care too much about what people think of me. I’m afraid that I’m so out of my element right now that I’m not quite sure how to be myself anymore.

    But like you I’m practicing my courage.

    • All it is is practice. Never have to worry if yesterday you were afraid or tomorrow you might be. Just right now practice. Me too.

      • Joe

        James, this is one of those most profound things I have read on your blog and it just so happened to come in the form of a comment :)

        “Just right now practice.”

        I read that line as I sit in my cubicle (cage as I call it) and for one brief moment, I was able to relieve myself of all fear. Because “just right now practice.” made it seem so simple.

        Often times I find myself thinking about being free and brave which is important, but actually practicing these things is what actually matters.
        If everyone could just stop right now and practice being free and not afraid, then we can begin to develop these feelings into habits and longer term happiness.

  • Early David Ehlinger

    Something to bolster your courage:

  • Laura Gaunt

    Always love what you have to say. My four year-old daughter often says, “I am not brave. I am scared.” To which I reply, “If you’re not scared, it’s not brave!” :)

    • She’s very wise to recognize fear when it shows up. I too often tried to be brave and risked it all.

      • Laura Gaunt

        As have I, as have I.

    • Amit

      Remind be a quote from GoT:
      “Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
      ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

  • jeffcouret

    Can you add date stamps to your posts so I can tell if they’re new or not?

    • Its in the url

      • jeffcouret

        Year and month is there but having the day would be better.. Just a thought.

  • Hi James,

    I practice every day.

    A fragile human in a foggy city in vast country on a big blue marble that is filled with billions of other humans who become less than tiny specs the higher up you get (and most of them are afraid of something).

    Thinking that kind of helps.

    You are one good egg, Mr. Altucher ;)

  • Joe

    I got so excited for a moment because I thought you threw in a Yoda quote…”Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to…suffering.”

    • Funny. I do use that quote in yesterday’s email list. So wait a week or so for it to hit the blog if I decide to use it on the blog
      -James Altucher writing from Claudia’s computer

  • Slzr

    James, it would be great if you could make a post about this, its getting a lot of traction between men:

  • Ruth Belmonte

    I’m here NOW…for the most part not very courageous! :) Thank you for taking me into your space.

  • Ben

    i think if you believe in your own good intentions and the limitations of what you can do then courage can come quite naturally. For me at least, fear is never a good option.

    • Fear is natural. Courage is recognizing it yet overcoming it.

      • Ben

        Fear is only a lack of knowledge.

        • MrLAL

          I’m afraid that’s the fact.

          • Ben

            good one.

  • Mark David Fourman

    Hi James,

    You might find this useful, “Overcome Your Fears – In 45 Minutes” at

    It’s a guided meditation I put together for transforming fears into positive motivation and courage. A bunch of my clients (and myself) have found it quite valuable for transforming the kinds of fears you list above.



  • Kara Gott Warner

    James, thanks for these kind words just when I needed them. The subject of courage is one that I found myself pondering today before finding my way to your poignant post. The fear of consequences– not being liked, falling from favor from my boss, messing up royally on a project and so on are some of the common fears that I find myself struggling with. Your post has helped me turn the corner on finally standing up to not say yes when I mean NO!

  • Chad Elkins

    The last two sentences made me cry all of a sudden as soon as I read them. I don’t know why, but I know I’m going through a real tough time right now and I’ve been wishing someone would say them to me. Courage. Even though I know the words weren’t directed at me, thanks, James.

    • One step at a time. One day at a time. This too shall pass…

    • Lady Quixote (Lynda)

      Ah, Chad… I don’t know you from the man in the moon, but your boldly honest, sweetly touching comment brought tears to this grandma’s eyes.
      Years ago I wrote what I call my Optimistic Blues song. I’m going to sing part of it to you right now, Chad. The melody is bluesy, jazzy, slow, sung in a smoky alto voice, like a soft lullaby. This is for you:
      “Troubles come
      and troubles go…
      that’s just the way this old life is
      you know, but ~
      I’ve got a feeling
      a beautiful feeling
      everything will be all right.
      First you’re up
      and then you’re down
      sometimes you feel like
      you’re all turned around, but ~
      I’ve got a feeling
      a beautiful feeling
      everything will be all right.
      God’s in his heaven
      up above
      sending his blessings
      on the wings of his love
      to all of the children here below
      and there’s no better way, I know
      I’ve got you, Babe
      and you’ve got me
      together we make a happy family
      ‘cuz I’ve got a feeling
      a beautiful feeling
      everything will be all right
      Your love’s got me reeling
      with beautiful feelings
      and everything will be all right!”
      ((((Chad)))) ~big hug from a 60-year-old great-grandmother XOXO

    • Peter Osiago

      The world is tough Elkins, but so are you. That is why you have always managed to keep your head above the waters, and come this far. You can do it again. And again

  • tom

    A bunch of years ago I was practicing law.

    My first felony case was some guy accused of fondling a minor.

    Decent guy, I personally think he didn’t do it.

    3 day trial.

    First day of the trial, I tagged each of the prosecution’s witnesses.

    I knew on the first day that I had created reasonable doubt.

    Day 3, we do closing arguments. Send to the jury.

    Judge calls me into his chambers.

    Absolutely savages me for the job I did.

    Basically accuses me of legal malpractice.

    Jury comes back.

    Verdict for defendant.

    Altucher speaks the truth:

    Have Courage

    Believe in Yourself.
    You will never be the same.

  • me

    Thanks, James. Maybe your most beautiful one yet.

    I’m not sure; there are so many beautiful ones.

  • Sugaree

    Thanks James. I really need this lately. Feeling very stuck in life, mainly because of all my fear. And bad habits.

  • Peter Osiago

    I am almost always as self-conscious as sh!t…always worried by the impression I always imagine I am making. A good friend Lucas made me aware that about 99% of the people we meet are so concerned by what they were going to have for dinner, and the shoes they are gonna wear tomorrow, and what they are going to say in that meeting, and etc, and etc; that they practically have no time to think about whatever impression we may be making. I believe it helped. Now I am practicing to be easy on myself. And to live my own life.

  • Smart Dad maybe

    My #1 quote which I tell my kids all the time is: It’s OK to be afraid, but you can’t let being afraid stop you.

  • Lucy

    Loved reading this, thanks James. I have recently been ‘brave’ and quit my soul-destroying job to go freelance. I don’t feel courageous at all right now. I feel like I have thrown myself into the abyss and I am scared, worried, anxious. But maybe that’s ok. I am human. It will be ok. Very much enjoying your blogs as I transition through this period, thank you :)

  • Of all the places I could hang out on the web, this community has become a favorite. Part of the reason why is because of what James writes. Another part of the reason why is because of what the people who read James write. Thank you one and all. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Jake

    “Courage is letting them go and simply waiting for what happens next.” Thanks, James. I needed to hear that tonight!

  • “Courage is caring but not having to care. Helping but not forcing. Saying no without being afraid of consequences.”- I love the way you describe courage here. Saying no can be very scary to me, but I have realized how important it is. I am getting better at it with practice.

  • The Whacky Chronicle

    There is a very profound quote by Helen Keller which I think about whenever I find myself in a situation that has me anxious and scared. The quote may sound like it is
    only applicable to people who live on the edge, but I believe it applies to every daily aspect of our lives.

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing”.
    -Helen Keller

  • Very informative and useful. Keep posting.

  • Chris Tully

    “Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
    The soul that knows it not, knows no release,
    From little things;
    Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
    Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
    The sound of wings.”

    -Amelia Earhart

  • kimberly wood klepfer

    Love. But one problem, major problem I encountered…I lost my husband of 35 yrs, 39 yrs together, when I chose me. Now mind you, I did NOT have the tools on how to do this and was going thru very strong chemical imbalances and said things I should not have, did things I should not have, and shut COMPLETELY down to him.
    Tools ate necessary and I see this as something I wish I would of had…
    Now I start a journey after the age of 14 of thinking I knew how my life would be, to completely lost.

  • 94nole

    Speaking primarily of relationships… when you’re the one who “lets go”, you’re the one who’s deemed to have turned your back on everyone else, all the while, they’ve made zero effort to reach out to you. A real dilemma for me. My adult kids want nothing to do with me…and I always felt I was a good parent.