Happy New Year! Do you want to thrive in 2019? To thrive is to progress toward or realize a goal, despite or even because of conflict. It also means to grow vigorously. To thrive requires some consideration, a positive attitude, and action. However, to truly thrive, we must serve others. Science has proven, and your memory of the happiest times in your life might also prove that we are most satisfied when we are serving others. To live in the service of others is tremendously gratifying for both parties but even more so for the deliverer.
What do you envision when you think of the word “thrive”? The thought makes me think of a smiling face, energy, and the image of a person with their hands over their head in victory. I also visualize sweat and toil. In order for a person to thrive, they must have the right mindset. I typically don’t like to use the word “must” because I don’t believe in absolute anything. The reason I choose not to believe in absolutes is because our beliefs are fabricated and manifested within. For example, where you live has an influence on what you believe. How you were raised matters too. The people you hang out with and the industry you work in will influence your beliefs. The church you attend and car you drive all matter regardless of your willingness to acknowledge this reality. Not a single person is exempt from this external influence on our internal reasoning. If I have learned one thing in the last 46 years, it is that man is fallible and I am man so therefore my absolute has significant potential for being absolutely wrong. Sorry for the diversion and back to the topic at hand. Put these five easily implementable strategies into play in your life and you will be on your way to thriving instead of just surviving.
Cultivate a Positive Attitude – There is not a simpler, scientifically proven (The Nun Study) strategy for living longer than having an optimistic or positive outlook. The people with a positive outlook lived 10.7 years longer than their peers with the least positive outlook. The challenge of positivity is that we all think we live it. Most of the negative people I know have such a low level of self-awareness, if you confront their negativity, they will vehemently oppose your accusations. Negativity is disguised as realism which is simply the ego’s strategy for validating its negativity. Here are a few ideas for better understanding how you are really showing up:
- 360-Degree Review – The 360-degree review has long been a preferred tool for renowned business coach Marshall Goldsmith. It entails asking peers in all areas of a person’s life, personal and business, specific questions to help the person better understand how they are showing up. Be prepared for the feedback because it can often be painful and must be received openly for it to have a lasting impact.
- Journal Your Interactions – Taking time to reflect on our interactions with others is a great technique for better understanding how you are affecting others. Some questions to consider: Is that person in a better place as a result of our interactions? What could I have done differently to leave them in a better spot? I don’t want to make you self-conscious, but I do want to make you conscious of self.
- The Direct Ask – Take someone you know and trust to lunch and ask them for feedback. Let them know you value their input and wish to get better about leaving every person in a better spot than when they arrived.
- Get Real – Journal about your feelings. Are you generally happy with your relationships? This is not a question to be taken lightly because the ego is in constant defense mode. You will need to focus on understanding the reality of how you are showing up before knowing the changes necessary for a more positive interaction.
Cultivating positivity in our lives requires humility, introspection, feedback, and adjustment. The goal is not to become a dim-witted Pollyanna, but rather a mindful truth seeker that has positive internal dialogue about how they are showing up and then choosing to show up in a positive way. Positive self-talk is the first step to overcoming a negative attitude. Another technique for increasing positivity is regularly documenting what and who you are grateful for having in your life. Each night before going to bed, take five minutes to write down three wins for the day. During this exercise, don’t think of how big or how small, but just on the positive emotion each evokes.
Plan – Thriving long-term will require a plan. Humans crave certainty and comfort. The reality is that we most often lament about our boredom and the lack of spontaneity in our lives. We get up and struggle through the day only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you work to develop a plan for your future: How would I like to serve? Who would I like to serve? What would have to happen in my life over the next three years, personally and professionally, for me to be satisfied with my progress?
Take Action – We must strive to thrive. The definition of thrive includes the word progress. It is impossible to progress without effort. Effort requires action. When you are stuck, take action. When you are scared, take action. When you have a plan, taking action is often a matter of reviewing the plan and determining the next step. The people in my life that I see thriving are the people that go. They aren’t waiting for validation or permission. They just go.
Serve – Multiple times in this article I have mentioned a need to serve. I believe it is impossible to thrive without serving (another absolute…gulp). If thriving is to be done with joy and positive energy, it necessitates service as a key component. Contributing in a meaningful way to the lives of others is incredibly satisfying. On many levels, serving is selfish because the satisfaction we generate personally almost always exceeds the satisfaction of the recipient. We are required to serve to earn. Who do you serve to earn your living? If you are not earning, who are you serving?
Community – In general, thriving is best done in a community. In community, we are able to share our challenges, receive encouragement and feedback, or a much-needed kick in the tail. The best communities will challenge you to thrive beyond your perceived capacity. They will push you to be excellent and continually increase your level of contribution. Jim Rohn taught us that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I want to encourage you to get around people with a positive attitude, people with a plan, people that take action, and focus on serving others at a high level.
Thriving is way more rewarding than surviving, yet so few people take the necessary steps to thrive. Another aspect we covered in a previous article is the importance of healthy habits. You can’t do well if you don’t feel well. It is really just that simple. So, what is your plan for getting healthy? Another idea to consider is “Be Happy Now!”. Everyone seems to be waiting to be happy. Somewhere along the way, we relegated happiness to “someday when…”. Today is the day to be happy. “Someday when…” may never come but your ability to choose and your sovereignty over your mind is always there.