A few days ago, a work colleague of mine said that he had only to work 18 more years before he could finally retire and really begin living his life. Now, this guy was pretty optimistic in saying that. If I remember correctly, he even said it with a smile. Because in his mind, compared to others who may have 30 plus more years of work before retirement, he was well on his way to pension and freedom – a light at the end of a tunnel. But although that made him happy to think about, it felt like a prison sentence to me.
I couldn’t help but ask myself if that’s what life is all about. Working a job, we dislike for 30 plus years and struggling to make ends meet. Our only consolation – looking forward to our sixties when our kids are grown up, and our mortgages are paid off, and we can finally begin to live. That doesn’t much look like living to me. That’s surviving instead of thriving.
What’s the difference between surviving and thriving?
Surviving is just getting by the daily drag of life, feeling stagnant and stuck. In contrast, thriving is living abundantly – growing, developing and progressing, feeling joyful and excited about life.
So what keeps us from thriving?
There are many reasons why some of us don’t thrive. And for each person, that reason may be different. For some people, it’s terrible circumstances. But for many, it’s just a lousy mindset:
• Fear of change or taking the unbeaten path
• Limiting beliefs about our self and our potential.
• Unaware and unwilling to take advantage of opportunities.
How can we start thriving?
From my personal experience, here are what I think are six principles of thriving:
- A trusting spirit
Not just confidence in our self and our abilities. Not only the courage to take leaps of faith. But more so confidence in God. Trusting that he has our back and that he would take care of us. A plant grows because well it’s a plant. But it also grows by depending on the sun, the water and in some cases the care of a farmer. Similarly, as we go about this thing called life, there are many things within our control but many more outside of our control. And so we must trust and depend on the creator and sustainer of the universe for our well-being.
- Present loves
I may be running the risk of sounding cheesy here, but we do need requited love to thrive. We are social and
emotional beings, so we need to love and feel love in return. And the deeper and more enduring the love is, the more fulfilled we feel. Having things and people we love grounds us in the present and, helps us live in and enjoy the moment.
- Room for growth
There is something about human nature that makes us want to progress in life. I’ve known persons who left high paying, good jobs simply because they felt like there was no more room for growth. Whether at work or in our personal lives, most of us desire growth. But for there to be growth, there must be space to grow. Freedom to express ourselves in a way we feel gifted and called in. We can’t thrive if we are stuck or stifled.
- Meaning in life
What gives your life, meaning, and purpose? We all need a reason(s) to get out of bed day after day and face life’s challenges. Something(s) outside of ourselves that makes life worth living. A calling, if you may, that gives direction to our lives. As a Christian, my faith in Jesus Christ is what anchors me and gives my life meaning, purpose, and hope.
- Resilience in times of hardship
Life wouldn’t always be sunshine and rainbows. Things won’t always go our way. There may be some thorns and thistles, but that shouldn’t cause us to retreat into survival mode. We should be resilient and keep pressing forward toward our goals.
- Hope for the future
I mentioned already being present and enjoying the moment. But the very essence of thriving is also growing toward something. Belief that, although today may be good, tomorrow would be better.
“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
Living in survival mode at times is practical and even necessary. There are certain basic needs we have that must be met for us to live – a place to lay our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs, family taken care of. It would be irresponsible and suicidal to neglect these things in pursuit of our dreams. The necessities of life should be taken care of first. But a life lived only in survival mode, I think is sad. Where it is within our power and where the opportunity arises, we should seek to thrive and see others thrive. Not just survive but thrive!
I wish you every success in life and in the pursuit of your passions and purpose.
A fellow traveler on the road toward financial freedom and a more meaningful life. More About Me and My Blog.