Surviving Versus Thriving

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

Surviving is what we do from day to day, and human beings are faced with a host of challenges and obstacles with which to contend every day. Sometimes life can seem like a breeze, and sometimes it can seem like an endless stream of difficulty. No matter how you perceive it or what's happening on the ground, your natura lhuman tendency is to move towards thriving if at all possible. 

Without the inner drive towards thriving, we can often find ourselves down in the dumps, going through the motions, or otherwise living life without the zest and joy that we generally desire. Sure, when the going is tough we can sometimes find ourselves struggling just to keep the bills paid and our heads above water, but when things are somewhat more balanced in our lives, thriving is usually the goal, whether we are conscious of it or not. 

What Stands in the Way? 

So, what stands in the way of striving to thrive? Well, illness and disability can be impediments, especially if our personal or medical care eat up most of our financial, emotional and/or spiritual resources. Chronic or acute illness can be exhausting, and living each day can feel like a major struggle. Thus, in difficult circumstances, the notion of actually thriving can be out the window before your feet even hit the floor. 

Finances, relationship issues, being the victim of abuse or neglect or exploitation---these are all scenarios that will sap your strength and send you into survival mode versus thriving mode. Let's face it, if your life is really tough and you're under great stress or duress, survival naturally becomes your reason for being, and actually considering the notion of thriving can seem ludicrous---or at least impossible to realistically consider. An abusive spouse will trigger your natural insticts for survival, and it's not until that spouse is history that you can then focus on thriving and building your life anew. 

What Makes Us Thrive?

What makes us thrive is when our lives are in a state of balance that allows us to move out of pure survival mode. When our needs are met and we're balanced, our survival is assured and we're able to focus our energy on thriving. If we feel good, if we're treated well by others, if we have enough to eat and a roof over our heads, we naturally strive for more. When opportunities are ours to seize, it's easier to advance ourselves, move our lives forward, and create positive movement that fills our life with meaning and purpose. 

Move Forward

If circumstances in your life place you squarely in the camp of survival, focus on what you need to make it through the days, weeks and months. If you can change that situation and alter your circumstances in order to shift the energy in your life, all the better. Granted, we have little control over scenarios of abuse, exploitation, illness, natural disaster and other extreme situations, but if your life is such that you can get ahold of your life's circumstances, turn them around, and move forward in ways that will most benefit you. 

Alternatively, if you cannot seem to extricate yourself from very trying circumstances, seek professional help---be it a coach, therapist or other person---to guide you in your recovery. 

Thriving is your natural birthright, even when circumstances seem to dictate otherwise. Move forward when you can, move in the direction of thriving whenever possible, and seek the support you need to take your survival to the next level---and thrive.