How do you thrive in times of survival? The push to survive focuses a person’s energy on the bare essentials of their life. Only living to survive undercuts a person over time.
There is a big difference between surviving and thriving. We want to keep this in mind as we examine our lifestyle. More deeply, we need to be aware of this difference because it’s very easy to get manipulated into falling into survival mode.
The first simple truth of thriving is you have to step out of survival mode. To hide from our times is to be defined by the times. To thrive we must instead turn this around:
Our actions define our times.
When a person is in survival mode, they are cut off from others. Worse: they are then within a process that limits their options. At moments we have no choice but to be in survival mode, but never make it into a lifestyle.
The Path To Thriving
Thriving is a process of growth. So we must remember to grow, to use our challenges to improve against.
Thriving is an ever-shifting process. It’s the long walk through our life.
Traps that Undercut Thriving
Don’t confuse thriving as a life of comfort.
Comfort is a form of stasis. Stasis undercuts your life as others push to grow against your comfort.
Don’t try to fix everything.
Focus your attention towards what matters most to you. If you try to fix everything, nothing will change, and you will feel spent and wasted on the efforts.
Determine what actions you CAN take in your life. (Don’t lose energy in worrying about what you can’t do) Focus instead on how to live more simply. Balance in what actions to take in helping family and friends. Then add to the mix when and how many phone calls, emails, visits, protests CAN you do to support the causes that matter to you. Focus first on simple levels of action. Then as you get more proficient in being proactive, grow out your actions.
Let me re-state how to balance out your actions because this is so important:
Don’t over commit when trying to save the world. The world cannot thrive if you are not thriving. Start in small steps in how you live, then expand those steps in helping/supporting those near you. Then expand out with larger actions. Balance out how you act in 3 small groupings. Take some actions for yourself, some for friends/family and some for the world. In this manner, you will keep your energy growing to thrive rather than draining yourself too fast.
Don’t obsess over the news or the facebook/twitter / etc. feeds.
To only focus upon a Facebook feed, ironically disconnects you from a personal action and the larger world. Proactively join with some physical community-based projects and efforts. While reading Facebook feeds will help keep you informed about your friends: it doesn’t physically connect you to the real world either. The electronic community is not enough of a connection to thrive against. Be plugged in enough to stay informed, share enough to keep information flowing, but don’t become a prisoner in an electronic cage either. Don’t lose your action in a haze of electrons.
Don’t just vent
The times can feel quite depressing. People like to share their depression as a way to escape it. If you are depressed from the times only venting to another person, who is depressed only creates a deeper shared state of misery. Socially induced depression is contagious. Rather you have to work towards positive acts.
To only vent to someone who is also venting, means you both will stay in the same spot. If you need to vent find someone who will listen without judgment. If you both need to vent then take turns. Take roughly two minutes each to vent and non judgmentally hear each other. After the venting is done, do a decisive action to firm up feeling better.
Steps to Thriving
Work on yourself!
The times are going to stir up insecurity, anxiety and old emotional injuries. Don’t be afraid to get help. Work with teachers, learn practices such as yoga, Qi Gong, dance or martial arts to calm the nerves.
The whole reason I became a teacher 15 years ago was exactly for this reason. To help people be active during times of more significant change so that they could be part of the greater change. Ironically in being stirred up, it gives you extra energy to heal yourself entirely now against the times. Be brave enough to work against this, and you will discover greater personal healing for your own life.
Never Give Up.
This is your life we are talking about. It doesn’t matter what set back happens. We learn from everything; we refine each step to improve how we live. The basic difference between those who thrive and those who don’t is a simple one. Those who thrive, never give up.
Be proactive in your steps. The times feel dark, and politicians are focusing on this darkness to push people into survival mode. Instead, we must focus on proactive changes to live better. It’s critical to keep our eyes to the prize: the prize of a better world.
Thriving as the Light
Every person is connected, part of the weave/awareness that we call consciousness which is both universal & personal at the same moment from a Taoist perspective. Modern science is now seriously considering that the roots of consciousness could be universal. If this is true, it means we are the universe’s voice in speaking up and out.
We are the universe’s agents of change.
For change to happen, it’s then up to us to strive towards it. We can only change and thrive if we stand up in our actions.
Kala is the Hawaiian word that means to bring one into the light. Our consciousness is considered the “light” of spiritual awareness. It might feel as if we are living in dark times, but hold to this truth: you are the light. Don’t suppress yourself in the face of challenge. We don’t have to let others who shout out their darkness trap us in that darkness. Our voices & actions can counter and bring light to the darkness others try to push upon us.
In accepting we are part of the light, it’s possible to switch out of the darkness of only surviving and then push into thriving.
Our path, Tao, journey is a wonderfully long one. Don’t drag along stones of despair or darkness. Release unnecessary drama/judgment. When we stand up to improve life, at times our hidden judgments can be the seed that sparks conflict. Releasing personal drama/judgment makes it easier to stand up against outside judgment. Also, our energy gets sapped when we maintain hidden judgment/drama.
The less we drag with us, the easier it’s to thrive in our life.
Waking up spiritually is all about connections. Once we begin to connect to the larger world, we discover both beauty and problems to embrace.
As a person begins to thrive, it then brings up the next problem to tackle: suffering.
Tripping Upon Suffering
As a person becomes more deeply aware in life, they also truly begin to witness suffering. Spiritually experiencing the suffering of others creates a challenge for us all. In an open heart connection to pain from another, we also experience that pain. Once you truly connect to suffering, the pain often pushes a person to resolve the hurt.
Worse in suffering, people often fall back to survival mode. A survival-only lifestyle will promote suffering.
The suffering of our times overwhelms people back into survival mode.
Several standard responses arise from this feeling of suffering: Compassion, Denial, Anger, and Flight.
- Embracing Compassion helps us heal the problem.
- Reinforcing Denial walls off a person’s heart from the connection to pain.
- Lashing out in Anger tries to destroy the source of the problem.
- Running away in Flight tries to move away from the problem.
The Compassionate Response
In helping others, we discover how to release our actions that create or promote personal suffering. In helping others, we must also learn how to work with the flow of awakening. To have compassion in how we help others connect to the larger world.
One response for people early in their spiritual process is to become healers or reformers. To help others before they suffer. This makes sense as the time to change and help others is early on in their problems. But then you will discover this isn’t necessarily true. You hit the next roadblock in a spiritual awakening: denial.
As a perfect example, look at our world today. Examine the way people resist changing their lifestyles when changing a lifestyle would be an obvious and seemingly simple solution to the global problems unfolding. Despite so many people now beginning to wake up spiritually, true change always seems to be just out of our reach. The reason why is the larger resistance of denial coming out from society. This is something that can be solved, but in a slower manner and with lots of patience to shift social habits. Also, be aware that forcing healing upon another can harm a person and create more suffering.
The Denial Response
Waking up spiritually can be a painful process. All the extra connections tend to overwhelm and show a person too much at first. So predictably that people hide in comfort, reside in monotone stories to prevent connection to the larger world. As you work to connect people to the truth, you will discover that they will resist it simply because they don’t want to suffer from the truth.
Going Beyond Our Natural Responses
Buddhism will teach to release everything. Taoism goes a step beyond release as the only answer. Suffering isn’t bad nor good, rather in addition to the release response, we can grow against suffering!
Don’t be afraid to grow, don’t run away from suffering, learn from it, help others, help yourself, and find graceful answers. Where graceful answers are the ones that improve potential and lives around you. As a lifestyle, grace opens up so much more than just running away from everything.
Flip Suffering Around
Ponder this Question
What challenge pulls at your heart today?
Me as an example for today.
My challenge today is age. I am feeling old, old, old, dust old, sleeping eons old. I could easily marinate and suffer from this state of mind.
Now ponder the next question.
What joys lift you to your feet?
I answer and laugh at myself. Reminding myself how truly young I am: 56 is nothing, I’m still young and vibrant, and that brings joy.
I never said you had to only focus on one question.
If you only focus on suffering all you will do is suffer.
Suffering is actually a dualistic experience. The flip side to suffering is Joy.
Let your challenge also be a path towards joy. The two are often connected my friends. In this, you can learn to turn around suffering to joy.
In joy, we can thrive again!
You may ask how to have joy while others suffer? The answer is to be proactive in finding joy by helping others live a better life. I have been doing this for decades now, and it works. As you focus on thriving, help others thrive, and then together over time, we can make a difference in society and improve our world.