Examples of Courage: Small Acts to Grand Gestures

Updated November 3, 2020
Person using ropes to rock climb as examples of courage
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Courage comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. While racing into a burning building to save lives and helping out a person who is being robbed are certainly courageous and admirable acts, even smaller occurrences can count as acts of courage.

For example, confronting a bully or asking out a secret crush out on a date both require certain levels of bravery. Therefore, acts full of courage can happen on the grand scale, but also on the smaller, day to day life level.

Grand Acts of Courage

Whether through pop culture, the media or simply living in a world where people have to be brave and face obstacles, you'll probably find yourself familiar with some of the following acts of courage:

  • Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom on the underground railroad.
  • Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. standing up for equal rights.
  • Joan of Arc facing harsh criticism and burning at the stake for her beliefs.
  • Jesus Christ continuing to follow his faith, beliefs and mission despite being hanged on a cross, brutally beaten and attacked.
  • The Pilgrims coming to the United States without any idea of what they were about to face.
  • Anne Frank and her family living in secret and quiet to hide from the Nazis.
  • The police, firefighters and citizens who rushed into buildings to save lives on September 11, 2001.
  • The people aboard Flight 93 who prevented the terrorists from attacking the United States Capitol.
  • Charles Lindbergh making the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.
  • Mother Teresa living amongst the poorest of the poor and helping them to thrive, learn and grow.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing up Mount Everest.
  • The American revolutionaries fighting for their freedom against Britain.
  • All those who fought in the Civil War to end slavery.
  • All those who have fought and who fight today for civil rights and equal rights.
  • Women and men who put their lives and reputations on the line fighting for voting rights for women.
  • People working for peace with global movements such as the Red Cross, UNICEF and the Peace Corps.
  • Military personnel and their families defending the freedom of the United States.

These acts, and similar acts, demand great deals of courage. Many of these people put themselves in harm's way in order to do what is right.


Courage on a Daily Basis

Not all acts of courage need to be known worldwide to be defined as brave. Here are some examples of ways to be courageous in daily life.

  • Trying a food that you've never tried before.
  • Engaging in a new experience.
  • Asking someone out on a date.
  • Doing something that might be a little risky such as sky diving or riding a bike for the first time.
  • Standing up for a person who is being picked on.
  • Asking for a promotion or a raise at work.
  • Helping out a person or animal in need, even if it might put you in a little bit of danger.
  • Standing up for yourself.
  • Leaving an abusive relationship.
  • Taking a stand against an unfair social or economic practice.
  • Doing something by yourself for the first time.
  • Making a public presentation about something you believe in.
  • Standing up against racism or prejudice.
  • Leaving a job that you don't like and trying to find a new one.
  • Signing up for a program or class that intimidates you.
  • Checking out a soup kitchen, volunteer program, etc. to see if they offer any connections in helping to be more courageous.

Engaging in small acts such as the ones mentioned above can eventually lead you down the road toward more global acts of courage. Simply getting involved with a volunteer opportunity at the local level can open doors to bigger projects involving human rights or rescue opportunities.