Home » Paramhansa Yogananda, Spiritualizing Daily Life

How to Have Courage, Calmness, and Confidence

by Paramhansa Yogananda
Spring 2010 10 Comments

Courage: an Innate Quality of the Soul

Sorrow has no objective existence. If you constantly affirm it, it exists. Deny it in your mind, and it will exist no longer. The “hero” in man is his divine or essential nature. To acquire freedom from sorrow, man must assert his heroic self. When the heroic element is lacking in a person’s mental make-up, his mind becomes amenable to all passing sorrows, but as long as the conqueror in man is awake, no sorrow can shadow the threshold of his heart.

Tears and sighs on the battlefield of life are the liquid cowardice of a weak mind. Life is nothing if not a continuous overcoming of problems. Every problem that awaits your solution is a religious duty imposed by life itself. There is no life that is not full of problems. Essentially, conditions are neither good nor bad; they are neutral, seeming to be either depressing or encouraging according to the bright or sad attitude of the mind.

When an individual rises above circumstances by the power of courage, all conditions of life, however dark and threatening, become like the blanket of mist that disappears with the warm glance of the sun. The sorrows of the normal man are not inherent in the conditions of life. They are born out of the weaknesses of the human mind. Awaken the sleeping hero in yourself, and no sorrow will ever darken your door.

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The sincere seeker, in contrast to the armchair “seeker” who wastes his life spinning intellectual theories, takes heart at the thought of the hard work before him. A true warrior, though afraid, plunges courageously into battle when the strength of his arm is needed. A true alpinist, though apprehensive of the sheer cliff he faces, sets out resolutely to conquer it. And the sincere truth-seeker tells himself, “I know what an arduous task it must be to achieve perfection, but I will give it all I have. With God’s help, success, surely, must be mine!”

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Secret fear creates tension and anxiety, and brings ultimate collapse. We must have faith in our ability. If we lack this quality, we can acquire it through determined and long-continued practice. First, we must identify our defects. If we are lacking in will power, through meditation and conscious effort, we can develop strong will power. If we want to overcome fear, we should meditate upon courage and, in due time, we shall be freed from the bondage of fear.

Through concentration and the practice of meditation, we develop the power to focus our attention. Continual practice will enable us to concentrate our energy upon any problem without effort—it will be second nature to us. This new quality will bring success in all undertakings, both spiritual and material.

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Instead of being overcome and discouraged when confronted with challenges, thank the Father for offering you the opportunity to see what you need to learn, and to develop the strength and wisdom to meet the challenge. Every day is a fresh opportunity to gather more exploits of heroism. Retire to your center of poise within, and commune with your Father there. He will show you the way.

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Affirmations for Courage
There is a right solution to every problem. I have within me the wisdom and intelligence to see this solution, and the courage and energy to carry it through.

God is within me and around me, protecting me, so I banish the gloom of fear that shuts out His guiding light and makes me stumble into ditches of error.

Calmness: the Source of Power

Calmness is more dynamic and more powerful than peace. Calmness gives the devotee power to overcome all obstacles in life. Even in human affairs, the person who can remain calm under all circumstances is invincible.

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The soul, made in the image of the Spirit, is ever calm and eternal. By worldly desires, an individual becomes identified with the weakness of the body and fears death and bodily limitations. No matter how long you have been meditating, if you still fear bodily diseases or death, you have advanced very little. You must meditate more and more deeply until you achieve ecstatic communion with God and realize that you are formless, omnipresent, omniscient—far above all bodily changes.

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Remember that God is always beside you, guiding and encouraging you. Learn to listen inwardly to His guiding voice all through the day. No matter what your work, if it seems exhausting, confusing, or impossible, just say to Him inwardly, “Father, this is your work. Willingly I give myself to serve You.” This will immediately release all tension, and the task will seem easy.

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A businessman seeking success must always keep his mind calm. Like a tractor, he must be able to move easily over ups and downs in the field of life. A businessman who is not over-elated by success finds that his concentration is not deflected from the path of even greater success. On the other hand, the businessman who becomes depressed by business failure loses the focusing power of his concentration, and thus is unable to make renewed efforts for material success.

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The moral aspirant should not be overjoyed when victorious over a mighty temptation, nor discouraged if he finds himself suddenly a prisoner of temptation. The resolute, even-minded moral individual moves steadily forward until he reaches his goal of complete self-mastery. He does not allow temporary success or failure to obstruct his way to moral progress.

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A devotee who, after a few years of deep meditation, acquires a divine joy, should not be over-confident in the lasting nature of that experience. Similarly, a devotee who meditates regularly but experiences a sudden explosion of restlessness should not become discouraged. The aspiring yogi must keep his mind steadily fixed on the inner perceptions acquired by meditation, and not allow his mind to be ruffled by temporary outbursts of joy or restlessness. Until a devotee is firmly anchored in the Infinite, he must steer his ship of concentration over both calm and rough seas. An unruffled calmness comes only through deeper and deeper meditation.

A devotee whose mind becomes like a rippleless lake, free from the waves of mental elation, sadness, and emotional disturbances—finds within himself the unruffled clear reflection of Spirit. His altar of calmness becomes the resting place of the ever-new joyous Spirit.

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Many people know the way to peace and permanent happiness but are slow to follow it. Make use of your spiritual training. If you want to live in peace and harmony, affirm divine calmness and peace, and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill. Live a godly life and the mere contact with you will help everyone who crosses your path.

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Affirmations for Calmness:
The moment my mind is agitated, restless, or disturbed, I will retire to silence, discrimination, and concentration until calmness is restored.

The light of Christ shines through me, and therefore my mind is clear. Order and harmony reign in all my affairs.

Confidence: You Are a Child of the Infinite

Man, having been created in the image of God, is the master of his own destiny, if he will but accept and use his God-given power. The only limitation on man is self-imposed, through his thoughts. It is well-known that “thoughts are things.” The statement in Proverbs, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” is a truth which has transformed the lives of thousands.

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If you have an inferiority complex, remember that success, health, and wisdom are your rightful heritage. Your difficulty can be overcome by determination, courage, common sense, and faith in God and in yourself. If you believe you are a failure, change your mental attitude at once. Be unshakable in your conviction that you have all the potential needed for great success.

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Cultivate the consciousness that the Divine Spirit, the owner of the whole universe and all of its abundance, is your own Father. You, as His beloved child, have the absolute right to possess everything He does. Never beg or pray for anything, but hold the thought that you have everything already, and that all you have to do is to seize it with the natural confidence of a child of God.

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No matter what your trials have been, or how discouraged you are, if you will make a continued effort to be better, you will find that, being made in the image of God, you are endowed with an unlimited power that is much stronger than your worst trials. Make up your mind that you will win, focusing all your concentration on ceaseless efforts to succeed, and you will surely be victorious.

Remember that your difficulties did not come to crush you, but to strengthen your determination to use your limitless divine powers to succeed. God wants you to conquer the difficult tests of life and to come back to His home of wisdom.

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There are many avenues through which outer influences percolate into the mind and form the inner environment. Watch the quality of the books you read. Watch the kind of people with whom you associate. Watch the influence upon you of family, country, and daily associates. Many people are unsuccessful because their families have infected their subconscious minds with paralyzing, discouraging thoughts, such as: “Oh John, no matter what you try, you make a mess of it.”

Disabuse yourself. Wake up! Affirm: “Whatever conditions confront me, I know that they represent the next step in my unfoldment. I welcome all tests, no matter how trying, because I know that within me is the intelligence to understand, and the power to overcome. I am willing to learn the lesson each experience can teach, and I am thankful for the strength and understanding developed by overcoming each trial.”

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Affirmations for Confidence:
As a perfect pattern for an oak tree is encased in the acorn, so a perfect pattern for my life was placed in me in the beginning. I shall endeavor to let this perfect plan emerge into manifestation without hindrance.

I know that each seeming difficulty is but a call to release the power which I already possess. As I express this power, I grow stronger and wiser.

From the book, How to Have Courage, Calmness and Confidence, Crystal Clarity Publishers.

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