Moving from Surviving to Thriving
Today we want to investigate what it takes to move our life from merely surviving to thriving. Too often we are preoccupied with simply trying to meet our daily needs. In survival mode, life energy may feel fragmented and depleted and our mind full of fear and frustration. But we are designed to thrive in life. To do that we only need to consciously live in the present moment. This open, creative, and purposeful state of awareness is our true self. When we live this wholeness of consciousness, we are thriving, and every thought and action is fulfilling.
If you paused and looked at your life today, are you thriving or just surviving? To survive means that you’re meeting the necessities of life, such as food and shelter. Surviving would also mean that those needs are met but you go about your daily experience without paying attention. You wake up at the same time, put on the same clothes, drive to work or school the same way, eat the same comfortable food for lunch, follow the same evening routine as usual, and complete your day only to rise again and start all over.
Why is it that I awaken every morning with a sense of excitement that the day ahead of me holds? I awaken with a sense of gratitude and peace that all will be just perfect, no matter what happens.
Because today I have a Power Greater Than Myself in my life, a Higher Power of My Own Understanding, that I was able to make up in my mind and from my heart. I learned to do this in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous when I entered in a state of disrepair, a loser, a waste of space on the planet.
I have learned to use the teachings, the suggestions, that AA has offered me to live a better, more meaningful life today. And today I wake up knowing that my Higher Power, the driver of my car, my life, will take me to the experiences and people I need to meet, and learn from, and grow from, as I, as the passenger, just enjoy the ride.
And then I go to bed at night, again, with a sense of gratitude for today’s growth.
To thrive means that you’re free to explore and expand. Seeing life as a field of opportunity rather than a fragile balance between making it and not making it. This doesn’t mean you have to throw off all responsibilities or invite unnecessary chaos and disruption to experience something different.
Today we’ll discover what it means to thrive. If wholeness is the field of pure consciousness, then each of us is designed to thrive. The secret is to make choices that expand your awareness instead of choices that contract it.
I remember being in a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism. One of our group’s daily routines was to express an affirmation each of us came up with for our lives to share with the group. An affirmation is emotional support or encouragement and in this group we used words.
So here Deepak speaks of wholeness which is why I bring this up. My affirmation was, “I am a good person. I am a whole person.” At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole. I felt a sense of purposelessness. I had nothing for which to thrive and nothing to give. Yet I was a mom of two beautiful sons, I had a wonderful husband, a good joy, a college degree, a house, two cars in the garage, and even a dog. So why this sense of being not good and not whole?
Because I could not go a day without drinking and that drinking took me to dark places. I was void and empty inside. I was bewildered, puzzled at what the hell was wrong with me that the next drink was more important to all the gifts I had been given in my life.
Many years later, many years of sobriety and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, many years of rigorous honesty, has led me to a spiritual place today. I still repeat my affirmation. And in my very core I can now feel that I AM a good person, I AM a whole person. I am grateful for the journey that has led me to who I am today.
The opposite of wholeness is separation which comes down to living your life in a fragmented way. We all do this. We choose the people we want to be with and avoid or ignore others. We are grateful for moments of fleeting joy and seek distractions to escape our everyday routine. But no one is really satisfied living with bits and pieces of fulfillment. We want to thrive and yet this desire cannot be fulfilled as long as the mind is restless and dissatisfied.
The source of wholeness and separation is the same. In wholeness your consciousness is ever-expanding to find new ways to be fulfilled. When you see your life as separate from others, your mind is attuned to limitations, such as failure, fear and frustration, so you grasp on to shreds of fulfillment, grateful for what you can get.
Working the 12 Steps has opened new doors for me, has turned on the light bulb, has brought me to the realization that because I did not have a sense of self-worth or self-respect, and definitely no self-love, I lived in fear.
So when I was “on stage” with you I ACTED the role that my life was awesomeness. I wanted, I needed, your approval. I went out of my way, put my family and myself last, to win your approval. All out of fear.
Today I love myself for who and what I am. More importantly, I understand who and what I am. And I can put myself, my well-being, my recovery and spirituality first. The rest falls into place.
Most people seek to improve their lives externally and what they value are tokens of fulfillment, like high income, a big house, a successful career. But you can achieve all of those things and still feel unfulfilled because the restless, fragmented mind can never be satisfied.
Think of the stereotypes you see in the movies and on TV. The midlife crisis man who leaves his wife for a younger model. The rich kid who has it all but hold secret pain and yearns for a way out. The unappreciated mother who finally sheds her burdens and lives the adventurous, carefree life she denied herself for years.
There is a reason these cliches are repeated time and again. They are normalized feelings of discontent that most people can in some way identify with. To get past this the secret is to let your awareness rest in its natural state of expansive receptivity.
For me to let my awareness rest is to be in the moment, that place right in front of my nose. There I can turn everything over to my Higher Power, the Universe, Mother Nature, God, whatever you want to call it. Find what works for you because you know it wasn’t by your doing that this is all here.
Being in the moment reminds me that everything is perfect, right here, right now. That my God has my back and is control. There are no coincidences. There are no reasons to regret the past nor worry about the future. I shall be protected, loved and nurtured if I just have faith, turn off my thinking and go with my heart.
In any situation you’re either expanding or contracting in your conscious response. When you’re consciously abiding in awareness you are in the present moment and your consciousness is expansive, creative and energized. Your body-mind responds to each situation from a place of balance, harmony, and ease.
On the other hand when your mind is contracted and fearful you simply react impulsively. This is a mind that responds with an automatic reflex of contracting. Contracting is easy to identify. You feel tense, uncomfortable, tired, perhaps even anxious. You want the situation that challenges you to simply go away or resolve itself while you back out.
Even if you don’t freeze up you react the way you have always reacted in the past. The reactive mind is based on a primal belief that life is uncertain and threatening. Therefore your stance must be one of closed off self-defense.
With my toolbox for living that AA has given me in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, I find myself no longer having to react. I am much calmer. I can step back from drama and chaos and assess the whole situation.
Spirituality has taught me to breathe and accept, even embrace, these situations. What can I learn? How can I grow? What can I share?
The opposite of the reactive mind is the resilient mind. This is the state of openness, acceptance and trust. A resilient mind embraces new situations as creative opportunities.
People who are open and accepting have a foundation for personal evolution. They discover new resources in themselves every time they confront a new challenge. In fact some psychologists studying those people who grow older while remaining young inside believe that the best thing you can do to remain young is to take on difficult challenges at any age.
Once you create the inner state of expanding awareness it’s only natural to radiate that energy all around you. Then you have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive by following your example.
Today I feel I have a purpose in my life that I did not have when I was in my active disease of alcoholism. Today I “get to” share my experience, strength and hope with all those who enter my Dee Bubble and I find that I do, indeed, have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive. For that I forever grateful. And I remain forever humble.
With warmest aloha,
For those interested in another way I share my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!
We all know the difference between friends and family who feel contracted, judgmental, and unhappy, and others who feel open, loving, and welcoming. The second group are influences of expansion. Their energy feels different. They’ve found the secret for how to thrive and not merely survive.
In our meditation we go to the source of pure consciousness which is infinitely expanded. From there we follow our own path to fulfillment for ourselves and everyone we influence.
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