Heading to the polls today? Listen to our new Shine Talk, Walking to Vote, on your way. It's free in our iOS app. Here's a sneak peek:

November 6, 2018

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word "brave"?

Is it heroes climbing mountains and saving lives? Is it leaders fighting to make the world a better place for future generations, or teachers and firefighters? Or is it driving with the EMPTY gas light on?

I have some news for you: It’s all of the above.

One of the greatest things about bravery is that it looks different on everyone. For some, bravery might be physical acts of defiance—like running a marathon—and for others, it might be expressing their feelings or standing up for what is right. But one thing everyone’s acts of courage have in common? They’re infectious.

In 2014, researchers found that emotional states can be transferred from person to person via what scientists call “emotional contagion.” Emotional contagion explains why people cry when they see others cry (just me?) but, in a more positive sense, it also explains why we are apt to act in courageous ways when we see others being brave—even from a viral video circulating online.

Emotional contagion explains why people cry when they see others cry but, in a more positive sense, it also explains why we are apt to act in courageous ways when we see others being brave.
Tweet

The vulnerability that comes with bravery can create an astounding ripple effect.

This past year, we’ve seen the contagious spirit of bravery play out on a national level with the #MeToo movement. The public displays of courage and vulnerability are the reason why people are still coming forward, sharing their own stories with the hashtag Tarana Burke created in 2017.

The Brett Kavanaugh hearings also created a contagion of courage.

“Bravery is contagious,” Sen. Patrick Leahy told Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her powerful testimony against the now-Supreme Court Justice. “You sharing your story is going to have a lasting permanent impact,” he said.

Her testimony, much like Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991, sparked a flood of personal stories about sexual assault and harassment.

If you’re struggling to think of the last time you flexed your own bravery muscle, guess what: Bravery isn’t always a groundbreaking endeavor. It’s a skill that’s practiced and honed over time, through the small acts that you do on the regular. Everything from making a decision to sticking with your personal values counts.

Bravery isn’t always a groundbreaking endeavor. It's a skill that’s practiced and honed over time, through the small acts that you do on the regular.
Tweet

Here are just 21 mini moments of bravery you’re probably already doing on a daily basis. Savor your courage in these small but mighty moments, and let it empower you when it’s time for that next brave step forward.

1. Getting out of bed and leaving your home

Some days, this can feel incredibly hard—and showing up is a huge feat. Pat yourself on the back for this one.

2. Being an active, voting citizen

Exercising your right as a citizen is a small step with enormous impact.

3. Being kind to a stranger

It takes energy to be kind, but doing so can make a small difference in someone’s day.

4. Getting vulnerable in a conversation with someone

It can spark a flame of courage in yourself and others.

5. Setting a goal

Recognizing your potential and committing to it? That's a big deal.

6. Showing someone that you care

Taking the time to love a pet or a partner, or even shooting a text to a friend, is an act of bravery.

7. Accepting what’s out of your control

It’s not easy to accept some things are out of your hands, but it can help you push through your day with a stronger mindset.

8. Saying 'no'

Being honest about what you don’t want is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

9. Saying 'yes'

Especially when it’s to a new challenge—it takes a lot of faith in yourself.

10. Managing your money

Financial independence? It’s not easy to navigate—but it means you trust yourself to be responsible.

11. Being bad at things

It means breaking out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons.

12. Being alone

Cherishing solo-time in the face of expectations is a defiant act.

13. Owning what makes you happy

Like that television show your friends don’t like or that book you found in the library. Your opinions matter too!

14. Setting boundaries

Hard to do, but it can make all the difference in your day.

15. Turning your energy into art

Whether it’s expressing yourself through a witty tweet, powerful photograph or fresh poem, it’s brave to show all sides of you.

16. Putting yourself out there

Asking questions or being vulnerable in new ways can help you soar.

17. Taking up space

Especially when the world tells you you don’t belong in a certain room? That’s bravery.

18. Accepting your imperfections

Insecurities are sticky—challenging them takes a lot of courage.

19. Having empathy

The news can often be hard to swallow, but taking time to connect with other people and their experience is a brave act of empathy.

20. Accepting your emotions

All of them, including the not-so-fun-ones.

21. Being honest

With yourself, with those around you—it takes guts to do it.


Read next: How to Feel at Home With Yourself (Because Succulents Can Only Do So Much)

🗳️ Shine the Vote

Download the Shine iOS app and listen to our new Shine Talk, Walking to Vote, to feel your impact when you head to the polls.