What’s the difference? You can certainly tell by how you feel… Thriving can feel abundant, in control, efficient, joyous, powerful. Surviving can feel harried, tired, exhausted, wounded, relieved, healing.
The dictionary defines thriving as: “To make steady progress; prosper. To grow vigorously; flourish” And surviving as: “Continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship, accident or ordeal.”
When I think of surviving and thriving I think of cause and effect, and your locus of control. Where do you place the control of your life? Is it within yourself, or outside yourself? Are you the cause of your situation? Or are you at the effect of your environment and other people?
I would suggest that in many cases when you feel like you are surviving, you are at the effect of the environment, and your locus of control, your power is outside yourself, with others or the environment. You feel disempowered, this causes a thought pattern of victim-hood. “I can’t do it because…”
In contrast, when you are thriving your control is within yourself, empowered, regardless of the environmental conditions. I like to think of this as carrying my own sunshine. When you are thriving, growing and flourishing then you are “at cause” taking control of your situation, taking responsibility for yourself and creating your future. “I can… I will…”
Of course, no-one is always 100% one way or the other. How empowered and thriving you feel in any situation has to do with your habitual beliefs, thoughts, emotions and values about that situation. You might find it easy to thrive and be empowered at work, but struggle when it comes to your health, or maybe you find it easy with your health, but some days your kids can wear you down!
Surviving or thriving can change from moment to moment, depending on your perspective. Hooray! That means you can change it! You’re in charge of whether you’re empowered or not. You’re always in charge of your own thoughts, even when they’re running on auto-pilot, you’re still able to turn it back onto manual control.
Thriving begins with taking responsibility for yourself, 100%. No excuses. Accepting completely that it was your choices, thoughts and behaviours that lead you to this point. that takes courage. And it was you, wasn’t it? It was you who thought your thoughts, made your choices and did the things you did. You may have made some choices while under the impression of duress, or pressure, but ultimately no-one was holding a gun to your head. Once you’ve accepted your responsibility in getting to where you are now… then you’re back in charge! As soon as you fully accept your part in getting to where you are, then you are back in the drivers seat. Now you’re able to think new thoughts, and make new choices to create your future as you would like it.
Once you’re in the drivers seat, well where do you go? This is the ultimate question… I think many people end up simply surviving because they haven’t taken the time to think about what they want for their lives. They float along from one moment to the next, buffeted and shaped by the environment. The thriver has a long term vision, a destination on the horizon that they are determined to get to no matter what! The thriver courageously sets a course for their goals. In any given situation the person who has the most certainty and behavioural flexibility will end up controlling the situation. So develop some certainty about your destination, set goals for your life, have the courage to go after them, understand your values and priorities. Know thyself. Then work on developing your flexibility of thinking and behaving so that regardless of what happens, you always have different options available to you to keep yourself moving forward.
Some people might confuse thriving with having good circumstances or good fortune, but this thought itself is a reflection of the surviving mentality. People who are committed to thriving will find a way to get to their goals no matter how many challenges or obstacles they face along the way. They aren’t thriving because there are no obstacles, rather they view obstacles and challenges as inevitable, even enjoyable opportunities to flex their creativity and problem solving skills. Thrivers believe in their own ability to find a way to overcome any obstacle. They live in the moment, even when it is uncomfortable, and look for what they can be grateful for and what they can do to make it better.
Struggling to lose weight is an example of a surviving situation. In this case the weight itself encases and weighs you down. The environment affects you, your boyfriend eating ice-cream or the vending machine in your office influence your decisions. You’re focussing on the negatives, what you don’t want, and so the struggle continues. Instead create a mentality of thriving and focus on creating the behaviours and habits that will allow your health, vitality, energy and fitness to grow and develop day by day. Commit to doing something each day to move yourself forward. Plan. Count the small things you do each day so you can feel as if you are moving forward. Thrivers know that every step counts. Thrivers also know that it’s not always going to be easy. You will fall, and falter, sometimes it will all go pear shaped. Thrivers just get back up, dust themselves off and continue.
You know the song… Survivor?
“I’m a survivor.
I’m not goin’ give up.
I’m not goin’ stop.
I’m goin’ work harder.
I’m a survivor.
I’m goin’na make it.
I will survive.
Keep on survivin’.”
I think Beyonce has confused surviving with thriving, She is most certainly not just surviving, but has moved over into thriving… These sentiments are affirmations of a thriver!
To your success. Go out and thrive!!
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