Have you noticed there are some businesses and people that just seem to be doing amazing, regardless of “The Economy”? How about people that stay healthy during flu season without vaccines or medicines while everyone else is sick? What about those that are packing on muscle on “bizarre” health food diets or exercise regimes that are totally backwards from traditional thinking? What is it about these companies and people that make them so radically different than the rest, that aren’t merely just “getting by”, but actually improving? How would you like to know the reason for this?
I’ll get to that in a bit, but first, let’s take a look at 2 examples of surviving vs thriving in the real world:
- Dell vs Apple – I don’t know about you, but I hear very little about Dell in the media these days, and a lot about Apple. Look at the buzz and marketshare around the iPhone. Apple isn’t just “surviving”, they’re thriving off the iPhone/iPad/Mac platforms. They have billions ($40B) in cash reserves and are one of the most sought after brands in the world. Now both are very successful companies and have my respect – I just want to paint a picture of how you can be going along quite nice, or, exploding with growth.
Dell isn’t going anywhere. They’re successful, so they must be doing good… but they sure aren’t thriving like Apple is.
- Diet – I don’t think there’s a more disputed topic in health than “the perfect diet”. I feel that’s because different kinds of people respond better to different diets for different purposes. I hope that didn’t make too much common sense. Now the interesting thing about the human body is that it’s designed for survival. That’s right, it’s made to remove toxins, reproduce/repair, assimilate different amino acids for multiple purposes from a huge variety of sources, and even take junk and make something magical from it.
Now, just because your liver was designed to detox alcohol, doesn’t mean we were created to be alcoholics… but if we decide to, our body will do it’s best to survive. Likewise, we have different kinds of teeth and digestive functions in order be able to deal with a wide variety of foods. Just because we can live for awhile off of fast food, doesn’t mean we’ll thrive off of it. I’m sure you have felt the difference between a healthy organic salad, and a Big Mac. Sure your body can deal with it and fuel you… but is it optimal?
Now that you understand the difference between surviving and thriving in 2 vastly different real world situations, let’s address something a little more personal: you.
Let’s Get Personal
Stop for a moment and take a look at your current life: health (including diet, fitness, stress-level, emotional wellness, etc), career & finances, friends & family relationships, your intimate relationship(s), personal (mental, spiritual, and emotional) growth, and over all satisfaction and happiness of life.
Ask yourself some questions like the following:
- How healthy are you?
- How much stress is in your life? What isn’t happening with all that negative stress?
- Are you working your dream job or on your way? What would it be like if you were?
- Are you an emotional train wreck, or are you happy and stable?
- Do you have a group of friends and a family that supports and believes in you, or are they just kinda there by default?
- How’s your connection with nature/God/the universe/source/science/yourself/any other belief system? Did you even choose what you believe in, or was that instilled there by your parents/culture by default too?
- How about your lover (if you have one) – is she just kinda there because you don’t think you can do better, are afraid to “hurt her”, or feel obligated? Or are you two wildly passionately in love with each other, celebrating each other every day, and having mind blowing sex like never before?
I’m serious, give yourself some quality introspection. Right now.
I’m going to have to say everyone reading this, including myself, is not where we’d ideally like to be in every area of life. If you are, well, we have lots to talk about. Remember the ideal of a Polyman is theoretically unachievable, unless it’s the constant pursuit to be one; so the fact every area in your life isn’t going perfect isn’t the problem…
The problem is when you’re settling to just get by, or, “surviving” – rather than striving for excellence and “thriving”. You see this everyday without a second thought… maybe you’re even guilty:
“How are you?”
“Eh, not too bad… you know.”
WOO! Somebody sounds fucking THRILLED to be alive don’t they. Not. The French actually have a phrase for this: “comme-ci, comme ça”. Directly meaning “like this, like that”, and in English: “so-so”, “could be better, could be worse”. I don’t know about you, but living everyday like that doesn’t sound like a way to live life.
Now listen, I get people “allow themselves to have bad days” (notice I said “allow”, like it’s actually a *gasp!* choice), and it’s kind of annoying if everyone was going around, all the time, everyday, prancing like fairies that just had the rainbow gods piss glitter and gold over their wings in return for sucking their minds out of their bodies.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m referring to the unconscious, automated, mundane responses most people (where I live at least) have when you ask them how they are. Sometimes you get a really positive response if something good happened, or a negative one if something bad’s happening – that’s expected of course. But where’s the passion? The zest for life? The “wow my family has survived plagues, famines, wars, thousands of years of reproduction, and this miracle of atoms and spirit coming together to form this body and mind, in an age of incredible technology and comfort, and that I was that 1 sperm out of millions that beat the rest to be here right now talking with you. Life is amazing!“
I know where it is, “life”. Bills, debt, work, disease, government, parents, and “The Economy”.
I wake up everyday saying “Best day ever!” – and I mean it. If today is not the first day of the rest of your life, and it’s not the best, then you’re either living in the past or endlessly hoping for a better future. Neither exist (well, for us humans anyways), we only have the here and now – our current experience – and if we’re not loving who we are now, how will success change that in the future? It won’t – it will only reinforce our current belief, whether that’s a negative or positive one. The funny thing with humans is that we have filters we see the world with, and our mind will use our experiences to reinforce whatever beliefs we have. That’s how 2 people can look at the same metaphor and use it as proof for their opposite arguments.
…but this isn’t a talk on religion or even “positive thinking”. This is about opening your mind from mediocrity to excellence – from just surviving to thriving. So enough with the wake-up call, on to the good stuff.
Become Aware of Your Blocks
Before we figure out how to get there, we need to see why most people aren’t. There’s unfortunately a few things working against most people to begin with. The following list is from those least to most in people’s direct control:
- Government/powers that be/media/corporations – Under the veil of having your best intentions, these entities actually have little use for a self-empowered, educated, and “thriving” society. Based on common sense, if you were a power hungry entity, how would you want your population to behave? Let’s not even go there. When you have a few hours, go here instead: http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/
- Religions/culture/belief systems – If inherently the environment, belief system, or culture you’re in doesn’t believe in human potential and condone happiness and personal growth, you’re in for a wild ride. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live in a place that doesn’t believe in me, and I’m grateful that I can easily do something about it. I understand that not everyone in the world has that convenience, so your thriving has to begin from within and manifest itself outward (as it should anyways).
- Family/friends/lovers – Most of us would say these have our best interests in heart. And I’m sure they do, but for some reason the phrase “why would you ask somebody who hasn’t made a million dollars how to be a millionaire?” comes to mind. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill talks about Masterminds and the influence of the people you surround yourself with and how influential they are in your life. Regardless of intentions, if these people don’t know what they’re talking about, have been misinformed/brainwashed, are unsupportive, jealous, or just have limiting beliefs themselves, they’re not likely going to be very useful or supportive in your thriving.
- Education/emotions/beliefs – This is where you have the most power and leverage in changing your life from mediocracy to excellence. When you can clear negative emotions that are holding you back, then learn new ideas and discover concepts for yourself, you form new beliefs about what’s possible and how to get there. If one has the belief “I don’t deserve to be happy” …how driven or likely are they to improve their lives? I’m guessing not so much, and even worse they think they do consciously, they may have self-sabatoging unconscious behaviors they’re not even aware of that ruin their seemingly positive endeavors. I’m sure you can see how powerful your beliefs are – regardless of how many pills, laws, or bankers are in cahoots to keep you in the rat race.
You are in control of yourself; you only choose to give it up. It’s time to take it back, now.
Taking It Back
So, how specifically do we achieve this? By being at cause; not effect.
What does that mean? Simply put, it means *gasp!* actually taking responsibility for everything, yes, the good and the bad, that happens in your life. If you can escape the “woe is me” victim mentality that so vastly permiates through Western society, you’re going to go from a place where you depend on somebody else for your happiness, validation, food, shelter, and so on – to one where you dictate your happiness and experience in life – not the media, friends, family, or your environment.
When you can realize all the decisions you’ve made in your life, both consciously and unconsciously, have lead you to all your experiences, positive and negative, then you are back in the position to “thrive” instead of just “surviving” in an endless maze and race of rats and sheep. When you’re in charge of your life, you’re the only one that dictates your happiness and success. YOU are the reason you’re preventing yourself from achieving excellence.
Like I said before, you do have some things working against you that are most likely encouraging the “in effect” behaviour. Before you can even begin to thrive, you need to realize and believe you are at cause, and can actually do it. If you’re reading this now, you’re probably the type of person that desires to live an incredible life and will actually do something about it.
Here’s a list of ideas and and things to do to start thriving in all areas of life:
- Step out of your comfort zone – Take smart risks. All “failures” are just a learning experience; go learn lots! A huge reason why most people are just getting by, is because they’re fine with the “comfort” of settling. It takes guts and effort to actually face your fears and take responsibility for your life. Courage isn’t the lack of fear; it’s being afraid and doing it anyways. As Ray Bradbury put it: “Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.”
- Discover where you are in the at-cause/in-effect scale – For example: are you responsible for that promotion, but that horrible break-up was all that crazy bitch’s fault? How were you at cause? That could be deciding to date her in the first place, allowing her to walk over you, or even a belief that caused your response to her behaviour.
- Prioritize your relationships – Speaking of break-ups, are the relationships with your friends/family/lovers holding you back? If so, how can you communicate your desires compassionately to them and get them on the same page, or unfortunately, remove them from your new life? If anything, like with close family, do what you can to minimize their negative influence on you if they won’t adopt your new thriving mindset. This can be incredibly hard – I know, I’ve done it – especially with people you actually like and care about. You need to realize you’re cheating yourself and each other from what you both deserve, if you’re not on the same page fulfilling each other’s values. There’s no judgement, better or worse: just different. This isn’t politically correct by any means, but if you’re in unsatisfying relationships and stay there, you’re living in fear… and how could your partner or friend ever truly respect you for that?
- Change your environment to a more productive and encouraging one – Does your community support your ideals, or are they stuck in the 1800s? Remember, all geniuses were once considered crazy. Find your tribe, as Seth Godin states, that believe in you. But again, you must believe in yourself first, which leads me to…
- Work on your emotions and limiting beliefs – There are many approaches to dealing with your inner game of thought and feeling, and it’s worth every penny to invest in yourself. I really can’t stress this enough!
- Model excellence – Find people, ideas, or businesses that have done what you want already. Find the most efficient, ecological, and best way to get the results in life you want from people who have already “been there, done that”. This in itself is a major secret to thriving – saving much time and effort.
- Improve your diet – If you’re not already, start eating more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Try green smoothies. Try superfoods like spirulina, maca, cacoa, and others. Get rid of as much fast food as possible, and eat more natural wholesome foods. If you eat meat, get grass fed/organic/free range/etc. Maybe try vegetarian, vegan, or even raw diets for a few weeks. I don’t know what the “perfect” diet is, but whatever your body actually thrives off of (not what you think it does) is what you should strive for.
- Do new fun things – Travel. Be spontaneous. Be brave. Step out of your physical comfort zone, as well as your career/mental/social one. Take up a new hobby, sport, instrument, language, or anything you choose. Success and happiness isn’t all about health and career; it’s about having fun too. Personally, I’m going to take up a new language and dance this year. After all, what’s the point in all of this if you don’t get to enjoy yourself? Ideally you should be enjoying everything… even the stuff you don’t want to do.
While a whole book could be written on this subject, and there’s plenty of mind/body/life “hacking” out there pushing the limits, hopefully this provides a starting point for those who are unknowingly stuck in their own “comfort zone”. Remember, you can read all day about being successful and happy, but if you don’t actually take some sort of action, it’ll be all in vain.
So here’s to life; thrive!
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