The setbacks are going to come down – sometimes several times a day. So the question is not how to avoid them, but what to do with them. And I want to do more than just survive. I want to thrive.
When we thrive, we are vital, vigorous, we are engaging in life. Excited. Enthusiastic. Curious. We are tapped into positive emotion, feeling good in our bodies, and finding fulfillment in the way we spend our days. It is usually marked by a convergence of positive growth in numerous areas of our lives. We’re inspired at work, connected in our families and social groups, and feeling that life is loaded with optimism and meaning.
But, now here’s the biggie, to get to this place, to thrive, we must experience growth. And that growth can sometimes, often, be provoked by pain, loss, adversity.
Psychologists like Barbara Fredrickson say that it actually takes adversity to help us thrive. When we are facing difficulties we are challenged to respond. We’ve got to come up with a coping modus operandi, a way to make it through. This is big-time uncomfortable and scary. But, here’s the little cosmic twist: that discomfort prompts us to expand and grow. When we grow we are more alive, more satisfied, fulfilled and happier than we are when we are stagnant.
Not saying you won’t feel tired or ticked off when challenged by a divorce or job loss or icky diagnosis. There are lots of things I have dealt with that I’m hoping not to run into again. But the payoff, when you do overcome, is a richer, deeper, more meaningful life — one where you live with confidence knowing you can handle whatever comes.
Ultimately, to thrive is to be engaged fully in this life experience. To embrace it. To grow through it. Then, when the tough stuff knocks the wind out of you, you know, that it’s just a matter of time before you rise up again to thrive.
On Wednesday I’ll offer up some ways of doing this.