Thursday, September 13, 2007


"Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant." - Maya Angelou

I immediately liked this quote when I read it in my planner this morning. Too often when I look at my schedule I am in survival mode - desperately trying to get done all I need to. And in life, there are times when just surviving is an incredible accomplishment. I think of times like grieving, financial hardships, spiritually dry times, and illness. Surviving is sometimes the best one can hope for. Sadly, sometimes we can get stuck in survival mode and it becomes a way of life instead of a stage. We can't imagine ourselves anywhere else then in our current, desperate (or near desperate) circumstances. Hope leaves us. And even if we try and sound hopeful to others, in our hearts we have given up. Things will always be like this. I might as well just get used to it.

When one is just surviving, it takes a lot of courage to imagine what thriving would like. It takes even more courage to plan for thriving! In psychology it has been proven that long term depression is often exacerbated by an overall (or global) negative mindset. This mindset, rather then circumstances, can keep a person from exiting the depression and thriving in their life. Action is necessary to break out of the survival mode and takes steps toward thriving.

Why is action so necessary? Because action challenges negative mindsets and proves that many of the negative assumptions that a person has are false. As an example; lets say a person has an accident and is unable to leave their home for several months (getting obese and socially isolated). During their recovery, this individual could eventually develop a negative mindset that says they can only survive and that they will always be this way (obese, lonely, and homebound). Depression may set in so that they can't get back to normal even after physical recovery from the accident. A counselor might challenge them to try some sort of action; maybe going for a walk twice a week and saying hello to at least one person they meet. Once they try this small action, the action proves the myth is wrong (I can get excercise, I can talk to people), and the negative mindset loses some of its power. They have taken a step from unnecessary survival mode to thriving.

Everyone needs to go into survival mode sometimes - it's part of being human and very normal. Life happens. But if you live there, if you can't ever get out of it even though circumstances may not be really that bad, then I challenge you in a friendly way to imagine and plan for thriving. Take some sort of action to change things. Even if you can't think of some action, ask someone else for ideas (a friend, a pastor, a business person, a counselor, a doctor, etc.). As much as is possible, change your stars. Thriving is possible, you just can't see it . . . yet.

May Light increase!


stacey said...

Very good thoughts Marc. This reminds me a lot about the posts on depression a while back. Just surviving at times, in certain circumstances is all one can do... then it gets comfortable... even thinking of taking action creates fear... the unknown... what if i take action and fail? what if i take action and don't get the result i need/want? i have been in that place, that "survival mode" and it can be a way to get thru certain situations but it can also be a trap. But I have come out on the other side too and after taking the necessary action, that first step; sometimes self-discipline, sometimes with coaching, sometimes a leap of faith--and you look back and think... why did i waste all that precious time being stuck in that place? Or as you say "live there"... Anything above the "survival" level is freedom, empowering, enriching, thriving, growing, living your best life... the one God intended for us.

Thanks for your post.


stacey said...

I can't believe I spelled your name with a "c"! Sorry... must be because I was reading an email today from Rachelle and Marc--the one in the family with a "c"!!!

Forgive me! :S

Mark said...

It's all good Stacey!