Bridging the Gap from Surviving to Thriving

beach life

~Is your life what you always imagined it to be?
~Do you live in relative comfort or is survival your middle name?

From the moment mankind stepped into the history books, future generations were given a model of survival to follow. Our hunter/gatherer brains set us apart and dictated our place in the food chain.

Honing the very skills to ensure our top dog status, we have fallen into a trap that says only hard work and excruciating pain will give us what we need to succeed in life. I find this kind of thought mentality dangerous. It not only breeds contempt and stress, it leads to a plethora of mental disorders that wreak havoc on our bodies as well as our minds.

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to create a life”
~Dolly Parton

I have found that a bit of mocking, as well as the occasional eye roll, often accompanies the saying, ‘Work smarter; Not harder.’ This is because the ones applying this concept to their own lives are seeing results that enable them to spend less time howling at the moon in anguish and more time doing the things they enjoy, as much as their fellow brethren, slogging it out in the salt mines are left to wonder…is this it? Is this all there is to my life?

My parents were hard-working people. My father never made it out of the third grade. My mother never made it to college. Yet they were able to live the ‘American Dream.’ They raised five kids, owned their own home and managed to take family vacations every year. How is this possible, you may ask. Because they lived in a time where hard work paid off and the fruits of their labor was measurable.

Fast forward several decades. My husband and I, raising two kids, spend our lives working just as hard, living paycheck to paycheck, barely able to make ends meet. We eke out an existence and life for us is a struggle. Yet somehow, through all this better or worse stuff, I still think that there is a better life waiting for us, we just haven’t found it yet.

“Nothing lasts forever, not even your problems”
~Arnold H. Glasgow

creating a lifeSo what is the answer to those wanting to bridge that gap from surviving to thriving? I am still working on that one. I do know this. I have spent a lifetime working hard with very little to show for it. Now, I think, it’s time I start working smarter.

Here is a rough draft of a game plan that has been on the periphery of my mind for too long.

-First, there must be an awareness that we have the power to change…our lives, our choices, our minds. Believing this removes a sense of victimhood mentality that tends to keep us stuck.

(I am the poster child for this, so I know it to be true)

-I believe each one of us is drawn to an interest unique to our souls. Find your interest. Learn everything you can about it. Study others that share your same interest(s). Study people you admire. Let it all sink in. This won’t pay the bills but it will give your mind a new focus and a direction in which to head.

‘No knowledge is wasted…ever’ ~ Ben Carson

-Search for opportunities to apply your interests. You never know what doors this will open or even who else it will help.

‘Life is an opportunity…benefit from it’ ~Mother Theresa

-Challenge yourself to be daring, even if that means having a cup of coffee in a new location.

‘You must never limit your challenges…Instead, challenge your limits’ ~Unknown

And most of all,

– Be gentle with yourself. As someone who deals with anxiety issues and has “felt” on the verge of death more times than I’d like to admit, (this is my own personal challenge), this step is very important. Each one of us has so much to offer the world, even if that ‘world’ is only ourselves.