No. 34

To have courage in the face of adversity is one of the greatest of all human virtues. The dictionary defines courage as “That quality of mind or spirit enabling one to meet danger, or opposition with fearlessness, calmness and firmness.” The late Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain summed it up this way, "It is the quality which guarantees all others."
As the topic of courage relates to your own life, here is a question I would like for you to think about: do you want the best life has to offer? I'm confident most people will answer "yes" to this question. It's just human nature to want the best, however, in many cases we settle for far less than it's possible for us to achieve. The only way any person can have the best life has to offer is to learn how to say "NO" at the right time and in the right way. Most of our obstacles to having and living the best life are brought about when we don't have the courage or intestinal fortitude to say "NO."
Almost from the time we are born and come into the world, life is made up of one decision after another. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have had loving parents, to have received a good education and to have made some positive choices, we began our journey through life with a lot going for us. Of course, for those who were not so lucky, there is always hope they will encounter enough positive influences to make a real difference.
In your own life, can you think of problems that were created, because you didn't have the courage to say "NO?" In my personal life, I can think of a thousand cases where I would have been better off if I would have just had the courage to say NO. Here are some examples where the simple word "NO" would make a big difference in a person's life.
NO to premarital sex; NO to drugs; NO to smoking; NO to alcohol; NO to profanity; NO to crooked or unethical business practices; NO to breaking the law; NO to cheating on your mate. NO! NO! NO! It's a powerful word when it's used in the proper way and at the proper time. Please don't think for a moment that I'm setting myself up as a perfect example of someone who has had the courage to say "NO" to each of these life changing decisions. In fact, there are only a few things on this list where I can truthfully say I've said NO to in every case. Based on my years of experience, knowing what I know now, my list of things I would say "NO" to would definitely be longer.
If we are wise, we will make these kinds of decisions in advance, so when we are confronted with a choice of this type, it will already be settled. I believe you will agree we do need a standard to live by, and something we can depend on to be right in every possible situation. We hear a lot these days about positive thinking and NO is not a positive word, but a negative word. When we say "NO" in a group environment, it shuts off fellowship, and who wants to be a wet blanket?
In most cases the lack of courage comes from fear. The word fear, in this case, can be seen in the acrostic, "False Evidence Appearing Real." In the vast majority of cases, we are afraid because we don't know enough or because we are acting on information that is untrue. When it comes to life changing and life altering decisions, I hope you will give some serious thought to what I’m saying and have the courage to say "NO", which is the only way to have the best life has to offer. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)