It’s a question you might have never asked yourself or sadly, haven’t answered because you know you’re not.

But what does it mean to thrive?

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, thriving is the “psychological state in which people experience a sense of both vitality and learning.” People who thrive are in a state of growth, development, and are energetic rather than being in a stagnated or depleted state.

A stagnated, depleted state.  Sounds like the definition of 2020.

The year for you may feel like a constant state of depletion, with a side of negativity.  The news, social media, comments you may read, conversations you’re in or overhear.  Just as positivity can lift you up, negativity will drag you down a dark hole and the effects are insidious.  Just like the horror movie of the same name, when you’re surrounded by negativity, it feels like a dark, red-faced demon following you like a shadow and ready to strike.

Negativity is toxic and if it goes unchecked, will take a toll on you, infect others, and everything that you do.  An infection as nasty as COVID-19.  When you thrive, you’re of course happier, but also healthier.  You build resiliency and can face obstacles without being taken down for the count.  You can focus on your work, family, friends.  You can focus on building the life you want.

You may be thinking, “Okay genius, how do I thrive?!”  Well, here are a few tips for you to get the ball rolling:

Stop Negativity in Its Tracks

And I mean literally.  Picture in your head a stop sign, railroad crossing, even Gandalf the Grey from The Lord of the Rings with his mighty wizard staff.  Anything that tells the Insidious monster (negativity) that he’s not getting into your head.  “You shall not pass!”  Think of stopping negative messages just like deleting an email or a text.  Click that trash can icon and move along. If you find yourself surrounded by energy vampires, people who drain your energy from you, time to rethink who you’re spending your time with. Drag them into the sunlight and set yourself free. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

We Tend to Believe What We Hear Ourselves Say

Be mindful of your thoughts and the words you choose to say.  You have probably been in a group environment where others have affected you positively or negatively.  But no one has control over your thoughts, feelings, and words but you.  And when we verbalize our thoughts into words, it’s far more powerful than if we think them because we often believe what we hear ourselves say.  Life isn’t perfect and it’s not always hearts and flowers.  But when you find yourself verbalizing negativity, try reframing it.  For example, if you find yourself talking about a situation being “the worst” or “catastrophic”, reframe it by using a word like “challenging.”  This acknowledges the situation but leaves room for growth and learning.  Affirming that you’re stronger than what’s happening.  You can’t control what others are saying and what’s happening around you, but you can absolutely control what you let in and how you respond.

Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s setbacks.  The phrase “a setback is just a set up for a come-back” may sound a bit cliché, but it’s true, nonetheless.  When you let the bad stuff over-take your mind, it affects your decision making, your immune system, and your emotional well-being.  It dramatically slows dopamine which is your “zest for life” hormone.  As Dr. Sears says, “The longer you dwell, the deeper your well.”

My biggest piece of advice if you’re in this state is to take action.  Get yourself in action whether it’s taking a walk, organizing a space, calling a friend for support, or doing a service for someone else.  That one is my favorite and always pulls me out of the well.  Doing something to help someone else.  People who are resilient tend to be healthier and happier.  They thrive.  So, practice building on your resiliency.

Practice Gratitude

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know this one is the big one for me.  Practicing gratitude will have a positive impact on every aspect of your life.  Create a personal and meaningful way to appreciate all the things in your life by practicing gratitude daily.  Gratitude helps to reduce stress and its negative effects.  It also increases the support we receive from others and becomes contagious.  For tips on how to establish a gratitude practice, read my previous blog Practice an Attitude of Gratitude.

It’s okay to be sad sometimes.  It’s important to recognize those feelings and be present with them.  But avoid letting them take over your world.  And while you may not be able to stop negative things from coming into your life, you can control how you respond and resist the toxicity of them.  Make good choices of who you spend time with, information you consume, and the mindset you adapt.  Climb out of the well and get on the path to thriving.