There is a significant difference between thriving and surviving. Surviving means, “to continue to live or exist,” while thrive can be defined as “to grow or develop well, to prosper or to flourish.”
How come, when so many of us claim to have a goal of thriving, the majority of us are still just surviving?
When we encounter stressors, our body is equipped to handle it. Because we live in a modern world in which we experience an ever-increasing barrage of stimulation, our nervous systems can become overloaded. This puts us into defense posture. Sustaining a defensive posture over time begins to require more and more of our energy. This begins a slide into survival mode, robbing us a thriving, fulfilling life. What is to be done?
The first step is to determine whether you’re in survival mode. There are plenty of signs, including a fear of change.
Signs You’re Living in Survival Mode
- You spend a lot of time resting, or passively being entertained.
- You are more reactive than proactive.
- You blame circumstances or others or find excuses when things go wrong.
- You feel there is never enough to go around.
- You don’t speak your mind because others might disagree.
- You feel fatigued much of the time.
- You see failure as the end result of things gone wrong.
- Your digital or virtual world is more engaging than your real life.
How Do You Know It’s Your Time to Thrive?
Maybe you a have a nagging sense that there is something bigger you were meant to do. Perhaps you want to start some self-exploration, a meditation practice, or to let go of unhealthy habits that no longer feel aligned with who you are. When you get past living paycheck-to-paycheck and realize that you don’t want the purpose of your life to be paying bills and accumulating things, then you have glimpsed the unbounded possibility of this life.
So you finally realize it’s time to thrive. Now what?
Thriving happens when you have a life of purpose, vitality, connection, and celebration. This isn’t tied to a specific salary, job title, type of car, or relationship. Material possessions are not part of the recipe to thrive. Follow these four steps to stop surviving, and start thriving.
- Know yourself: People who are attuned to their own strengths and weaknesses are more able to clearly define what they enjoy doing every day. When you spend time learning about yourself, it reminds you how unique we all are. Some people feel revitalized after alone time, while others need to connect and share to feel recharged. When you feel your best, who is around you and what are you doing? Identifying this strengthens your ability to recognize your own likes.
- Choose to fill your day with activities that use your skills, strengths, and passions: A simple exercise is to make two lists. The first one should describe everything you do each day. The second one should list the activities that you love to do. Compare the lists and adjust so that the maximum time possible is spent on the activities that benefit your body, your mind, or your spiritual well-being.
- Surround yourself with other thrivers: When you surround yourself with colleagues and friends who have big ideas and are doing something to make them happen, it motivates you to keep moving towards what you want.
- Thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally: Remember to balance your life. Eat well, sleep well, and make time for play.
Quick Fixes to Get You Started on a Thriving Path
- Consider resetting your nervous system. Network Spinal Analysis is a unique technique for reorganizational health and healing.
- Think about how you want to feel rather than what you want to have or do.
- Remind yourself of times in the past when you have felt like you were thriving. Visualize these times and remember how it felt.
- Make a vision board or get on Pinterest, where you’ll find inspirational quotes and ideas, and create a collage that reminds you of how you want to feel and what you want to do each day.
- Spend time every day in nature.
- Take a class or learn something new.
- Grab a book by someone who inspires you.
- Listen to a podcast or webinar.
- Do something that challenges you.
- Change a habit.
Sometimes choosing to thrive feels more difficult than simply surviving. Developing the resilience to turn crisis into opportunity will ultimately serve you in every area of life. Remember to treat yourself with the kindness, support, and encouragement you would offer to others. Build yourself up. Cheer yourself on, and never doubt for a second that you are worth it.
In the words of Maya Angelou “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”