Are You "Surviving" or "Thriving"?

By Terry Streather | Mental Health

May 07
Check out this pair of pumpkins…

They are both the same variety of pumpkin. They are both orange. They are both tasty. Both have the same potential... and neither of them are sick.

But did you spot the difference?

I don't know if you noticed but pumpkin number 1 is massive. It’s clearly done very well for itself and is doing more than surviving… it’s thriving!

If you were one of these pumpkins, which one would you be I wonder? (I know… I can barely believe I have just typed those words myself…) Anyway...the point is:

Are you surviving or thriving?

So what's the difference? The Oxford Dictionary defines:

Survive: Continue to live or exist
Thrive: grow or develop well or vigorously, to prosper; flourish.

Leaving the pumpkins for just a moment...no doubt you started out your working life full of excitement and aspirations to be the best you could be.

Then “life” happened and now you just grin and bare it just to make ends meet. You have no choice really, after all you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and times are tough.

“Hi Dave, how was work?”

“You know how it is, nothing changes, same sh*t different day”

If this sounds familiar you are in survival mode… pumpkin number 2.

I’m not suggesting you up and quit your job. In fact, we know that the right work and environment actually has a positive effect on mental health and well-being. And our mental health is key to being able to thrive. But don't kid yourself...

Just because you’re not “sick” DOESN’T mean you’re healthy.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The World Health Organisation

But as most organisations go through seemingly endless rounds of restructure and change, too many of us have just accepted that high levels stress and anxiety is a fair price to keep our heads above water.

"Agile Working" (and I have only just got off my soap box about it...) means the lines between work and downtime have become even more blurred, and the world of social media has changed the way we interact with friends and family. Constantly being reminded of our flaws and the fact we will never be able to keep up with the Jones's in "Whats-a-Face-Snap-tagram-land" is surely no good for us. 

Good mental health helps us to thrive.

The way we think, feel and act has such a huge impact on our ability to enjoy life and roll with the punches when they inevitably come. Stop waiting for life to deal you a better hand… take control and deal it yourself.

“Life happens while you are busy making other plans”

This darling little phrase of the "self-help" world is true in many ways, but it assumes that people are doing something about their future.

Sadly, in my experience, far too many people aren’t actually making other plans at all… they are just kind of existing.

Personally, I think this is more accurate:

“Life happens while you are waiting for … {fill in the blank}"

...the right time… the stars to align… lottery win...the mortgage to be paid… that promotion… retirement and the pension (only 23 years 6 months and 14 days to go!)

In short…waiting.

If you have ever felt that there must be more to life then you're surviving.

Strong opinion being expressed here so brace yourself…I don’t mean to offend. These are all excuses.  There is no right time, anyone with kids will tell you that!

A few closing thoughts...
  • Are you truly living the life you want? Are you thriving or just sleep walking through life taking each day as it comes?
  • Just because you're not sick, doesn’t mean you're healthy or doing well. It means you're not sick.
I’m not so sure a life of “continuing to exist” is all that appealing.
Prospering and flourishing however, now there’s a thing….
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About the Author

Terry is Director and Head of Training at Oakwood. He helps clients promote a proactive, rather than reactive approach to both personal safety and the positive mental health of their staff. He has over 12 years teaching experience in these areas, and advises organisations in the development of appropriate risk assessment and policy.