Recently I had a conversation with a new friend Maria who had just returned from a personal-growth retreat, and I asked her what she'd learned.
"I learned that there's really only one question in life," she said. "Are you going to survive or are you going to thrive?"
I've heard this before, in different circles. Once a student used it as an affirmation on her vision board during an art-making workshop. "I'm a thriver not just a survivor!" she pasted among images and other affirmations. And of course, it's been the focus of every aspect of Eli's cancer-healing adventure. For some reason, though, when Maria said it at the gym a few days ago, it really resonated.
Are you going to survive or are you going to thrive?
During these challenging times when it seems that there are natural disasters and acts of violence happening all around us, for those directly affected survival is paramount, harrowing and desperate. I can't imagine what that might be like, and love and light goes out to each of them, where simply surviving can be a major accomplishment.
For the rest of us, being affected indirectly by the news of all the chaos, perhaps concerned about friends and loved ones in the impacted areas, it can still take an enormous emotional toll and it's important to take care of our selves as well.
Some days it's an act of courage just to get out of bed and face the day. And yet, with the realities that surround us, is it possible to be able to move beyond that?
In the words of poet Ellen Bass "It is possible to thrive. Thriving means more than just an alleviation of symptoms, more than Band-Aids, more than functioning adequately. Thriving means enjoying a feeling of wholeness, satisfaction in your life and work, genuine love and trust in your relationships, pleasure in your body.”
As I sit here writing, I wonder: what would it take for each of us to move beyond the feeling of surviving, to be able to "enjoy a feeling of wholeness" again and to truly thrive each and every day?
Maybe it begins with being mindful of the stories that we tell ourselves each day, sometimes all day long.
"Life is hard."
"This is so much work."
"I don't have the time (or money or resources or the right connections or the right city.)
"I don't have a partner, or the right partner. I'm too old, too young, too fat, too ______. )"
What if, just for this week, we were able to move beyond these thoughts and limiting beliefs and tell ourselves (and each other) new stories? What would that look like and feel like?
In what ways can you create a shift in the language that you're using in your internal dialogue? How can you take action, even small steps, towards living a life that is rich in meaning, purpose and joy? A life that is rooted in not just surviving, but thriving?
We're always listening here. Or please feel free to share your ideas or thoughts in the comments below.