According to the New Oxford American Dictionary of English Language, to thrive means to grow or develop well or vigorously, to prosper or flourish. Who doesn’t want that, but how many people can really say that about their lives? Oxford American’s Writers’ Thesaurus uses the words to blossom, to do well or to succeed as synonyms for thrive. Thriving is a condition beyond mere survival; it connotes growth and positive development.
Couple of years back, I made a strategic change in my life which evoked strong criticism from close friends and family members. I remember vividly a conversation I had with a friend who asserted that I didn’t need to make the change; that I could survive the circumstances, which I wanted to change. My spontaneous response was that ‘I don’t just want to survive, I want to thrive’. And to thrive, I had to make the change. Looking back, I am glad I made the change. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that before the change, signs of survivorship characterized my lifestyle, particularly:
- Fear of Change
- Taking the path of least resistance
- Being more reactive than proactive
- Always expecting the worst to happen
What triggered my desire to change was this nagging feeling that there was more to my life than I was experiencing. Maybe, you are also at a critical stage and your heart is longing for growth, change and success. Here are some tips that could help you navigate from survivorship to thriving:
- Know yourself and be true to yourself: Hmmm, this sounds like a tall order, in the words of Shakespeare “…to thine own self be true, and … then thou canst not be false to any man”. Being true to oneself is an essential ingredient for thriving. But how can you be true to someone you don’t know. So you must make deliberate, conscious effort to understand among other things, your natural tendencies and inclinations, your innermost desires, your aspirations, your weaknesses and strengths, your temperament and personality type. Knowing yourself very deeply will help to reinforce your uniqueness and will help you make choices that align with your person. Knowing yourself will make it easier to know what you truly want in life and that is an unmistaken indicator to one’s purpose in life. Knowing yourself will also help you to understand your ability/capacity. Aligning what you want with your capacity to achieve will enhance success in your endeavours. The thought of trying to understand yourself could be daunting; you need not feel overwhelmed, there are resources to help such as Meyers Briggs test for Personality Types or the Gallup’s StrengthFinder for uncovering talents and strength and a host of other resources and tools. With the newfound understanding of yourself, develop a clear vision of what you want to be or achieve.
- Let go of the past: You might have been hurt or experience some pain in the past. In fact, pain is one of the component of life. You will get stuck if you don’t move past the pain. . You are stuck in the past when you relive the past and you ruminate on the pain over and over again. Being stuck in the past hurts and the pain will cripple you and keep you perpetually in survival mode. To let go, you must express the pain, accept responsibility for whatever is your part in the incident, forgive yourself and others. Express your pain by venting to a friend, a professional Counselor or writing out your deep feeling either in a journal or as a letter (which you would destroy afterwards). Expressing the hurt or pain you feel helps you to heal. Accept the responsibility of your action and contribution to the past pain, forgive yourself and move on. Where others have caused your pain or hurts, forgive them. You need to forgive others, not for their sake but for yourself, so you can move forward; unforgiveness get you stuck. Forgiveness is a tangible evidence of letting go. Letting go is not as easy as it sounds, but it is very crucial to thriving.
- Develop a Positive Outlook: A positive attitude is essential for growth, especially when you are trying to make a strategic change in a major area of your life, like your job, relationship or lifestyle; at such times, and at other times as well, a positive outlook to life enables you to manage the stress and challenges. While it is impossible to control life’s events, however with a positive outlook, you can see the good in life’s twists and turns and you can manage them to your advantage. People with a positive attitude to life situations and challenges will be able to navigate life more constructively than those stuck in a negative attitude. Having a positive outlook to life also enhances your mental and physical wellbeing. A positive outlook would make it easy for you to envision success and would make it even easier to achieve your goals. Positivity also influences your relationships; it makes you attractive to others so friendships and relationships are easier to develop. To develop a positive outlook, you need to control your inner monologues, replace negative self-talks with positive ones, be grateful for the good things in your life, regardless of whatever challenges you are currently facing and create a positive atmosphere around yourself as much as is within your control. A word of caution, be realistic in practicing optimism.