Survival Vs. Thrival

I know that fans of the English language and grammar nazis will point out to me that thrival is not a real word, but to you I say, I am the one writing this so deal with it.

This title comes from some time I spent meditating on my life and on what makes a good story. During that time, I was living in Changsha, Hunan, China. I was six months into a ten-month teaching contract, and I had developed a case of expatitis, basically I could only see the negative in everything and then bitch about it. This happens quite frequently to foreigners living overseas.

At the same time that I was dealing with this internal negativity, I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and trying to write my own travel narrative. I was reading the book one morning when the thought struck me that people don’t read books about people who survive, they read books about people who thrive.

Let me illustrate what I mean, when I was just surviving, I woke up in the morning, ate breakfast, watched T.V., went to work, came home for lunch and watched T.V., went back to work, ate dinner, watched T.V. Not really the kind of story you’d pay $10.99 to read When I started living In a thrival mindset, awesome things started happening, things that are worth writing about. I started working out and lost a bunch of weight, I got a couple of tattoos (and cool stories to go with them), I said yes to just about everything, I climbed mountains, I made friends with strangers on the bus. In short I made stories happen.

The thing about thriving in life is that it is a choice. It’s not an easy choice. Survival mode attempts to keep you somewhere near your comfort zone, thrival wrecks your comfort zone so completely that you find yourself in places you’d never imagine and your completely happy with it. Thrival sounds awesome, and it is. But it is hard work every day you have to make the decision to thrive, you have to make it your goal and run toward it, if you don’t, you won’t thrive, you’ll just survive.

As I write this, I realize that part of the problem I have had in coming back to Beijing is that I haven’t chosen to thrive on a daily basis. There’s a lot of excuses I could make for choosing not to thrive, Beijing is too far away so it is easier to just sit in my apartment doing nothing, my roommates don’t cook and if I cook instead of eating frozen food, I might piss them off by stinking up the house. Yoga is hard and I haven’t been feeling well. All these excuses are BS; it is just easier to do these things than it is to try. Plus, by not trying I get the added bonus of being able to cry about how things aren’t working out. I don’t know what thrival is going to look like for me this time around, but I do know it will look a whole lot different than it does now.

The decision to thrive is a scary one. It means that you have to make an effort to change your outlook and your situation, whether than waiting for these things to change on their own. In my experience, circumstances rarely change on their own and when they do, you won’t like the reasons, it is better to be the master of your fate and decide to thrive, rather than always just surviving and having “good enough”

So as you start your day (it’s 8:45am, Beijing time as I write this) choose to thrive today. Make the extra effort. Do what you have been putting off. Make that major leap that’s been scaring the hell out of you. Follow your dream. Find your passion. Really live. It’s worth it.




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