These past few months, I’ve heard more and more people talk about how they are “surviving.” Surviving working from home, surviving the daily grind, surviving the “new normal,” surviving life in general. It certainly is important that we survive, that we conquer the “beast” in front of us, and quite frankly we should be proud of ourselves for surviving. Heck, it’s even in our DNA to survive—that’s how we’ve managed to survive not getting eaten by saber-toothed tigers thousands of years ago and are around to survive what we face today! But is it enough to just survive? And what happens to our body, mind, and spirit when we are constantly in a state of survival?
Most of us are very familiar with the physical aspects of the survival mode—the heart quickens, the breath becomes more shallow, our stomach does a flip flop, and we drop down into that primal part of our brain that helps us jump into action or at least run faster than the person in front of us. There’s another part of the survival mode that we don’t think about so often, and that’s when we live in the past, conjuring up images of loss, hurt, and trauma, and then we use those images as a means to talk ourselves out of doing something that might cause us to become hurt or in pain all over again. And when we can’t draw on a past wrong, we come up with all kinds of worst-case scenarios and work really hard to plan for the eventual thing we just know is going to do us in. Let’s face it—the need to survive is primal!
But it is also quite stressful, eats up a lot of our energy, and sometimes keeps us so stuck in the past that we can’t move forward no matter how hard we try.
Thriving, on the other hand, is when you trust: that your life will unfold the way it is supposed to; that you recognize the past is the past and while it got you to where you are today, it is not necessarily an indication of who you are today or where you will go tomorrow; that it is okay to cooperate with others because something good will come out of the experience (even a new lesson learned); that opening up your heart to love and be loved, while also being vulnerable, will energize you and make you feel vibrant. When you nurture yourself on a daily basis with laughter and wholesome experiences, and surround yourself with beautiful things (like a walk in nature) and practice being grateful for all that you have and enjoy the company of positive people, it will bring joy, contentment, peace, and happiness to your life. And the best part is that your body will experience this too and will thrive as well.
The next time you’re asked how are you doing…rather than falling into the trap of saying, “I’m surviving,” focus instead on the many different ways you are thriving and share those positive stories with friends, family, and all the new people you are bound to meet along the way in our collective journey.
Here's to another day we’ve thrived!