By Dr. Ellen Albertson – Reprinted with permission from Dr. Ellen
Are you thriving or surviving? Be truthful. In the evening are you exhausted and just happy to have made it through another day? Are stress and worry; rather than joy, peace, and passion fueling your life? Then you’re probably surviving and not living in a state of optimal wellbeing.
There’s a huge difference between surviving and thriving. Survive means to “continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.” Thrive means to “prosper, be fortunate or successful, to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.”
Survive mode is characterized by:
- Choosing the path with the least resistance
- Experiencing lack rather than abundance
- Reacting rather than responding
- Complaining and blaming others for your circumstances
- Feeling inauthentic and stuck
- Fearing failure and viewing it as a sign that things are going wrong instead of seeing it as a necessary part of success
Thrive mode is characterized by what psychologist Martin Seligman refers to in his book Flourish as experiencing PERMA:
- Positive emotions
- Engagement and flow
- Positive Relationships
Many women, especially at midlife, want to thrive, and yet the majority of us are simply surviving. We want to feel vital, passionate, energized and excited about life, but the sense of flourishing we felt in our 20s and 30s has vanished.
Why are we surviving rather than thriving? The two main reasons I see with my clients are fear and habit. We’re scared of stepping into our brilliance and facing the unknown. Or we’re comfortably uncomfortable, stuck in a routine that’s kind of working but certainly isn’t making us happy. As I’ve discussed in previous posts there’s a nagging sense that you’re running out of time as if a Divine alarm clock has gone off signaling: “Get your shit together now and make something of this wonderful life before it’s too late.”
So how do you move from survive mode into thrive mode? Fortunately, there are scientifically proven strategies you can use to live a vibrant, happier life. The first step is to admit you’re merely surviving and want to thrive. Like Maya Angelou make thriving your mission in life!
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. –Maya Angelou
After you set an intention to THRIVE start using the 10 strategies below!
Remember a period in your life when you were thriving. Spend time re-experiencing how thriving felt. Think about what you can do now to get that feeling back.
- The Gratitude Visit
This one’s simple, but effective. Think of someone who has had a major impact on your life and tell her how she’s helped you. You can send an e-mail, a letter, call or visit.
Engage in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. You’ll improve the health of your brain and body and feel more vital and energized.
- What Went Well
Every evening write down three things that when well in your life AND what you did to make them happen. (This is one of my favorite exercises in Seligman’s book.)
- Welcome change and challenges
Be optimistic. Rather than avoiding change and challenges welcome them as powerful tools to help you grow and learn. Believe that you have the resources and ability to thrive when faced with change and challenges. Not challenged? Do something that scares you. Click HERE for ideas.
- Discover your strengths
Make a list of your strengths. (Ask someone to help you or take Seligman’s FREE VIA Survey of character strengths test by clicking HERE.) Once you identify your strengths find new ways to use them.
- Increase positivity
According to psychologist Barbara Fredrickson experiencing more positive emotions when we interact with others is key for wellbeing. Be positive when you interact with others and encourage others to do the same for you. Surround yourself with people who are positive, thriving and supportive and limit your exposure to people who are negative
Take the time to savor all life’s joys and pleasures. When something good happens to you take it all in. Be mindful. Slow down. Pause for a moment to take in the good around you. Congratulate yourself when you do well. Spend time with people you love. Fill your life with pleasure and give yourself permission to enjoy.
- Increase flow experiences
Flow, also known as being in the zone, is the mental state where you are fully engaged, focused and involved in an activity. Find at least one activity (such as dancing, painting, singing, bird watching, hiking, playing a game or instrument, writing….) that puts you in this state of enjoyment. Do it several times a week.
- Be kind
One of the most powerful ways to thrive is simply being kind. Being kind is easy. Yet doing a kind act creates a powerful, scientifically proven increase in wellbeing. Don’t take my word for it, experiment with kindness today. Find one completely unexpected kind thing to do and just do it. Notice how your mood shifts. For ideas click HERE. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself. It’s a fabulous way to practice self-compassion.
Set an intention TODAY to thrive rather than merely survive. Yes, choosing to thrive will push you out of your comfort zone and may feel harder than surviving especially initially. But is surviving really that comfortable?
Need help thriving? Click HERE to contact Dr. Ellen and schedule a complimentary coaching session.
Dr. Ellen is a Psychologist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach® and Reiki Master. The Glow & Grow Coach, Dr. Ellen teaches women at mid-life how to harmonize the dance of their lives with the song in their hearts and flow with grace, beauty and ease. She’s passionate about helping others let go of who they think they’re supposed to be & embrace who they are.
Learn more about Dr. Ellen