Many people call themselves “survivors,” whether because of a specific incident, or because of a pattern in their lives in which they have managed to keep living under circumstances that are less than optimal. Surviving is sometimes all we can manage, but wouldn’t you rather thrive?
Surviving is about not dying. Period. It means staying alive in a world that feels dangerous. If you are a survivor, you have learned how to beat the odds and keep yourself alive. You have been beaten down, but you got up again to live another day. A few qualities required for survival include awareness of danger, assessing danger, and acting on our assessment of the danger. It’s all about danger. All that survival requires is keeping your head above water.
The basic needs of survival are well known: Food, Shelter, and Clothing. Without them, we could die, particularly in a world that is seen as hostile. Just turn on the news and you will see that humans can survive in horrendous conditions. We have amazing resilience and ability to adapt to the environment, to take any resources we have and mold them to our needs. We learn to turn off emotion, to live in fantasy, to change our environment to fit our needs, even take from others anything we think they would not give freely. We are the most resilient and resourceful of the animals.
Do you wish to survive like an animal? What if you could do more than survive? What if you could use your superior, human abilities to make your life joyful and prosperous?
Thriving is taking the higher road in our lives. It involves being the best we can be and taking our lives in our own hands. It is a conscious choice to reach beyond the stars we can currently see to those that do not yet exist. A person who is thriving brings a sense of joy and fulfillment to every situation. This person sees the big picture, but truly lives in the moment. This person still considers basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter, but other needs, like love, fulfillment, and peace are also considered. When your goals are bigger, you dream bigger and your actions are more determined.
When you live in “survival mode”, it can be difficult to even see how thriving might be possible. Circumstances and training might have taught you how to survive; once you have fully mastered survival, however, thriving is the next step in your personal evolution. You can achieve personal greatness. All that is required is an open mind, motivation to be more than you see in the mirror, and a little bit of guidance from someone who believes in you.
Thriving is an ongoing practice. It isn’t a static goal you achieve, but a continual reaching for your next level. Like a computer game with no ending, you reach your goal and realize that the next one is even more exciting. You realize that the journey is the fun part and the goal is there to give you a purpose and a focus. This does not mean that you never feel sadness or experience failure. It doesn’t mean that the world around you stops being what it is. It means that you learn how to put it into perspective so that sadness and failure do not define you and world events do not stop you from growing. It means that those experiences make you stronger and smarter. They do not tear you down; they build you up.
You might ask, “How do I do this? How can I change my experience of the world from surviving to thriving?”
You change your thinking and your perspective. You begin to explore the bigger picture and find meaning in your experiences. If you have spiritual beliefs, you turn to your spiritual teachers to help you find answers. If you prefer science, you look at the physics that drive physical experience. You fully allow yourself to experience your emotions and your physical body. You learn about and practice mindfulness. You make time for anything that makes you laugh or feel joy and happiness. Then, you make more time for those things and maybe you teach them to others so they can feel it, too.
Depending on your unique style, there are endless possibilities for thriving, but the most important part is your intention. If you set an intention to thrive, you have taken your first step on the most rewarding journey of all; your life.