Harnessing courage, building confidence, and working through situations outside of your comfort zone may help you be brave.

Bravery is a positive way of thinking that motivates someone to action, regardless of danger, risk, or challenge.

Unlike courage, a deliberate mustering of determination in the face of distressing circumstances, bravery tends to be a part of someone’s general mindset.

If you’re brave, you usually approach multiple aspects of life in a bold way.

It’s OK if you don’t consider yourself brave — yet. Bravery is something that can be built, and learning how to be brave can help you achieve personal growth in other areas, like self-confidence.

Optimism is a proactive, positive way of thinking. It’s the sense that the journey will end successfully even when the road to get there is rocky.

Building optimism may help you build courage, a stepping stone to bravery.

When you assume things will turn out fine, for example, you may be less hesitant to engage in action.

A 2022 study notes optimism levels are positively related to self-perceived courageousness.

In turn, this is positively linked to numerous indicators of well-being like life satisfaction, flourishing, and motivation.

You can help build optimism by:

  • gratitude journaling
  • praising yourself for successes
  • pre-planning several pathways to achieve your goals
  • visualize the best outcome possible

Approaching life with optimism may help you find courage, but optimism isn’t necessary to be courageous.

Courage is conscious action. It’s what you have when you motivate yourself forward when risk or negative emotions are encouraging you to stay put.

Finding courage can be a step toward an overall mindset of bravery, and you don’t have to jump right into heroic-level deeds to practice it.

You can practice finding your courage during small moments. If you’ve been avoiding a doctor’s visit, for example, due to fear of hearing bad news, courage is taking the step to make that first appointment.

Personal courage is individual, based on your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

Feeling assured in your capabilities is what it means to have confidence.

When you’re learning how to be brave, feeling confident means you may be less likely to have doubts or fears that stop you from acting.

Like bravery, confidence can be built. You may be able to improve your self-confidence by:

  • reframing inner statements from “I can’t” to “I can”
  • setting small, achievable goals
  • practicing self-affirmations
  • keeping healthy lifestyle habits, like balanced diet and exercise

When it comes to building confidence and increasing your bravery levels across the board, skill expansion may help.

The more you know, the more tools you have to navigate daily life, and the more capable you feel in multiple areas.

A 2020 study found improving knowledge and competence significantly predicts positive improvements in confidence.

This sense of overall self-efficacy allows you to take on the challenges of the day in their entirety, not just one or two moments that require courage.

Feeling capable isn’t just about knowledge. Feeling physically able to meet your personal needs can be an important part of bravery.

Physical fitness can be empowering.

It can provide peace of mind that you have strength in times when you need to be physically strong. It can also help you be more confident in your ability to achieve challenging goals and be independent.

A 2023 mixed-methods study on the empowering effects of exercise among women found completing a workout was related to a sense of accomplishment, and challenging exercises like heavy lifting or distance running were viewed as empowering.

The more you practice bravery, the less you’ll have to actively think about being brave. Repetition over time can create habits and behaviors that are second nature or done without much thought.

According to dual-study research from 2019, habits may play an important role in how people define their sense of identity, and linking newly formed habits to your identity may help you sustain new behaviors.

In other words, the braver you act, the more you may view yourself as a brave person.

If you find it challenging to step out of your comfort zone, putting yourself in a position of responsibility can help you learn to be brave in a controlled setting.

This doesn’t mean you should take on a stressful management position at work, but it does mean you can volunteer to head up the church bake sale or host a holiday party for loved ones.

Holding yourself accountable in a group setting is a way of challenging yourself to be brave and take action because others are depending on you.

It encourages you to engage in prosocial motivation and benevolent actions related to helping and guiding others.

A study from 2023 notes prosocial motivation is beneficial if you’re in charge because it reduces anxiety about being in power and leads to greater leader well-being.

There’s a popular adage that goes: “Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” It implies that you align your thoughts and behaviors with the people closest to you — for good or ill.

If you want to know how to be brave, surrounding yourself with people you view as brave may help through a process known as group positive affect.

Group positive affect occurs when the people you spend time with influence your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a positive way through a shared experience, like collective bravery.

Sometimes bravery is overshadowed by things out of your control.

Certain mental health conditions, for example, like anxiety disorders, may directly impact your ability to be brave despite your best efforts.

Speaking with a mental health professional can help you work through underlying challenges that may impair bravery development.

Bravery is more of a mindset than a singular action. It’s a positive way of thinking that involves components of:

  • confidence
  • courage
  • responsibility
  • habitual forward-thinking

It’s OK to not feel brave all the time, and if you want to feel brave more often it’s something you can develop.

Working on aspects that contribute to bravery like self-confidence, optimism, and responsibility can help you practice being brave so that one day it may become a part of your self-identity.