Courage – Courage to be Disliked for Authentic Happiness (GAMSAT Essay Example)
Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme, how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself.
- ‘Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes!’ – J.M. Barrie
- ‘None but the brave deserves the fair.’ – John Dryden
- ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.’ – C.S Lewis
- ‘As to moral courage, I have rarely met with two o’clock in the morning courage: I mean instantaneous courage.’ – Napoleon I
- ‘Perhaps those, who, trembling most, maintain a dignity in their fate, are the bravest: resolution on reflection is real courage.’ – Horace Walpole
Suggested Theme: Courage (Section B)
Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins
Chosen Quote: ‘Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes!’ – J.M. Barrie
Courage to be Disliked for Authentic Happiness
James Matthew Barrie’s quote,’ Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes!’ is elegantly interpreted by a Japanese philosopher and psychologist, Ichiro Kishimi, ‘The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationship will all at once change into things of lightness.’ The following dialectic explores how to change one’s life and achieve authentic happiness with courage.
There is a misconception that one’s past determines one’s present; an attempt to link or blame one’s current condition and status based on past events. Alfred Adler, a 19th-century psychologist, established that happiness lies in the hands of each human individual, and does not depend on past traumas. Thus, humans are capable of changing anytime – it is totally up to the individual to decide and change, or not to change.
The feeling of inferiority (or superiority) is a subjective interpretation rather than objective facts. The nature of subjectivity allows making own choice and view anything as an advantage or disadvantage. It is impossible to alter objective facts, but the individual interpretation can be anything – a choice between optimistic or pessimistic is one’s responsibility. Adler’s psychology is the psychology of changing oneself, not for changing others. Thus, independent action to take the first step forward with courage is necessary rather than wanting others to change.
Adler saw competitive societies as detrimental to our mental health and well-being. Today, this is a prominent topic in debates around Western vs. Eastern culture. Generally speaking, countries like Japan and China have competition, but are overall, more focused on cooperation as a nation. In contrast, nations like the US and Germany focus on individual winner types. The problem is that if one believes in being happy, then it is necessary to prevail the others, like earning more money, getting more likes or having more friends, but the feeling of sorrow and stress is unavoidable either way. Adler suggests something much more productive to be the purpose of psychology; to help humans to be courageous. Once eliminating narrow, competitive mindset and embrace abundance, there will be no setbacks or holdbacks. The moment we realise that no one cares about our appearance, our life choices, or anything, is when we learn to accept freedom.
Change requires facing fear, anxiety and respecting and accepting oneself as is. Life is not a competition – after all, there is enough to go around for everyone. With the determination to improve oneself, anything becomes achievable. The authentic happiness comes from the courage to change, and it will be well worth it!
Feedback from METC Institute:
Engagement with the chosen topic:
The student does show a good attempt at engaging with the topic. However, it is not overly affective. Instead of analysing the given quote, the student compares it to another quote and instead focuses on this one. As a result, the engagement with the given quote is limiting.
Knowledge and thought:
The example provided here is clear, relevant to the subject chosen, and successfully supports the student’s main arguments. The issue however is with the arguments link to the quote.
Structure of the Essay:
This essay does not use the suggested TAS structure. Notes on this structure can be found in your course materials. TAS is suggested because it prevents issues found in this essay, such as a lack of a clear, central argument, and a lack of clear counterpoints with synthesis between these tow positions. The TAS structure should allow for a full and complete analysis of the quote.
There are no major issues with technical writing in this essay. There are a few issues with sentence structure and word choice but these are infrequent.
The main issue here is the failure to properly meet the goal of the essay, the analysis of the quote. This essay does not fully utilise the quote but instead discuss one that is similar. This is not a poor essay but it does not fully meet the task.
Ensure you write about your quote, feel free to use other quotes as support but these are not the core of your essay.
Feedback from AceGAMSAT:
This essay is somewhat outside of the format you should be aiming for these kinds of essays. You seem to be approaching this like a research piece for a university assignment. This is not what Task B is about. Rather, it is about how you can relate to the chosen prompt, how the prompt is indicative of a perspective you might have on your own experience. Discussing the theoretical work of thinkers is definitely not what the task involves.
Some of the statements you make are also under-defined or under-explained. For example, your use of terms such as “objective”, “facts” and so forth can be clearly critiqued for lacking in sufficient context. I would say context is lacking because it is clear from your writing, that you have made quite careful determinations in relation to the prompt and are definitely trying to outline an interesting theory. However, without enough backing to your claims many of them do not stand up to sustained analysis.
The main takeaway should be that there must more of your experience covered in any Task B assignment. This was the biggest component lacking in your essay.
Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT:
While the ideal of courage is addressed, the essay does not follow the purpose or structure of the Task B essay. We are also unconvinced that the essay is a true dialectic as most of it expresses a single view instead of two opposing ideals that will be resolved or synthesised in the end.
Thought and Content:
It is rather glib to simply say that your past doesn’t determine your present. Trauma does affect our present. Childhood trauma, particularly, physically alters the development of the brain and lays patterns of thinking and responding that can be unbelievably hard to break, at least without breaking other parts of the self in the process.
Of course, we need to take responsibility for our own happiness, and that to do so can take immense courage; but the idea that someone can just make a ‘choice’ to be happy – as if it was as easy as choosing whether to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream – denies the reality of many people’s lives. It also creates a sense of blame and shame, or of being a failure, none of which is helpful.
Language and Structure:
As noted in our comments on your previous Task B essay, this s not the ideal place to write a dialectic. Task A is, to be sure, but for Task B you should aim to shift to more reflective, personal, storytelling perspective. Our comments on the previous essay in this regard also hold here.
We understand that it is hard to turn off the analytical brain, especially since so much of that you need to study for GAMSAT is scientific and objective. But you need to find a way to “switch brains” and find that reflective side of yourself for the task.