What Thriving People Know About Accepting What Is

Thrivers Accept What Is.Things happen, and we wish they hadn’t.  Then, we fight against what we think might happen.  And we even fight against where we are right now.

The struggle does nothing to change what is.  In fact, the more we struggle, the less we are able to respond.

The less we are able to respond, the more stagnant we become.

But thriving people know to accept what is.  It becomes the starting point for growth and change.  It becomes the foundation of thriving.

Listen below for why thrivers accept what is, and how we all can thrive more!

What Thriving People Know About Thoughts

Thriving people do things differently.  But like success, thriving leaves a trail.  If you want to thrive more, look at what thriving people are doing, and follow their lead!

So, I have isolated 15 things that thriving people do differently.  And each week, we will be examining one of these traits.  Ready to thrive more?

Remember, thriving is not binary:  you are not either thriving or stagnant.  The question is can you thrive more?  Can you move toward a more thriving life, and away from stagnation?

Thriving is not about money, success, good looks, or even being happy all of the time.  It is about growing toward a greater, more fulfilling life.  It is growing into the person you were meant to be.

So, let’s get started.

A thought is a thought.First up, thrivers understand thoughts for what they are:  thoughts.

Listen below to discover what this means, and why it is so important in your life.

A Life of Regret or A Life Reset?: #24 Thriveology Podcast

A life of regret or a life reset.Regret.  It keeps us locked in the past.  Yet we all struggle to let it go.  Why?

If I had a friend that told me what I tell myself about my past short-fallings, mistakes, and missed opportunities, I would send them away.  I would never speak to them again.

So why do we listen to that voice that keeps reminding us of the past?  Why do we stay trapped by what has happened and can’t be changed?

Or perhaps more importantly, what can we do to make a shift?  How can we go from a life of regret to a life reset?

In this podcast, I explore 5 steps to leave regret behind and make a life reset.

Join me, won’t you?

Are We Allergic To Struggle?: #22 Thriveology Podcast

Are we allergic to struggle?  Or do we just misunderstand what struggle means?

Do you find yourself avoiding or embracing struggle?

Perhaps a shift in mindset will give you a shift in life.  Living a life of impact cannot happen — thriving cannot happen — when we avoid struggles.

Instead of embracing struggle, discover how to embrace a challenge in this week’s podcast.

Fear Series, Part 1: Authentic versus Existential Fear — Thriveology Podcast

dealing with fear and thrivingFear:  it is not just a figment of our imaginations.  Sometimes, we need to be afraid.

But the need to be afraid, the reaction to a very real threat, is much less common than when our irrational, existential fears kick in.  When that happens, we live small.

In today’s podcast, we take a look at what happens when fear rules our day.  We look at the roots of the conflict.  Are we predator?  Are we prey?  Because we are both, we are left with some remnants of fear avoidance.

That little voice whispering for you to play small, to not take action, to not pursue a life you crave?  That is fear talking.  Fear is pretending to be your friend.  But your fear is betraying you and keeping you stuck.

Learn how to identify the fear for what it is and take action to limit fear in your life.

Let me know what you think in the comments area below!

Giving Thanks: Thriving Through Gratitude (Thriveology Podcast #4)

givethanksgratitudeIn the United States, we are in the midst of avoiding the crush of commerce for just a few moments of giving thanks.

Perhaps we gloss too quickly over this opportunity on our sprint to the Holidays. We miss the opportunity that gratitude brings in transforming our lives.

I remember the blessing before our Thanksgiving meal, where we were in a circle and said a word about something for which we were thankful.  I often felt put-on-the-spot, saying something quickly to move onto the meal.

Partly, that for which I was most thankful was too private.  Partly, I missed how important gratitude could be.  Now I know.

Gratitude can create powerful shifts in our lives.  In can transform our lives, if we tend to it.

In this podcast, I discuss how you can bring a thankful attitude into your life, tell you about some research that demonstrates why you should do this, and even tell you a story about how someone was transformed in the process of being grateful.

Please listen and let me know what you think!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rule 4: Fear Is A Fact Of Life

Fear is a fact of life.  We may as well get used to it.

I say that because we all spend an inordinate amount of energy avoiding fear.  For what?  We still feel it.  In fact, very often when we avoid fear, we really only grow that fear.

Let me be clear:  I am not talking about the fears that keep us alive (our survival instincts), but about the fears that rule our lives.  Someone gets anxious around others, so he or she stays away from people.  Someone fears speaking in front of others, so she or he turns down a great job to avoid that.  Someone fears a broken heart, so he or she avoids getting close to someone.

Fear pretends to be our friend.  It whispers in our ear that it is only protecting us, but fear restricts us.  It keeps us from living a full life.

Unless we learn to accept it and move on.  As Susan Jeffers says, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”  What powerful, and counterintuitive, advice!

This rule fits into the previous rules about thoughts because fear is tied into our thinking.  We use our thoughts to stay caught in our fears.  In this way, we misuse our thought capacity.

Just for a moment, let’s think about fear.  Remember the old “fight or flight response” from Biology 101?

Imagine yourself living millenia ago. The world was far less safe to you than it is now. Replace our city streets with small paths running through the jungles or forests. Imagine miles and miles between safety. Imagine not being at the top of the food chain (that’s a big one!). You are, literally, at the mercy of the elements! In some ways, it is amazing that our genes are even still around.

Through the process of natural selection, those capable of getting away, steering clear of danger (in other words, quick to feel danger and fear) survived to pass on their genes. Those more reckless or those unable to detect a threat no longer have genes to pass on. Those genes became extinct.

Now, in evolutionary terms, it has only been a blink-of-an-eye since then. While we have used our intellect to tame the wild, pushed back nature and its threat to the edge of town, we still live with those genes that were selected way back! In other words, we are wired to have a fear response.

Not only are we wired to have that response, it is a response that happens automatically. Remember that class when you heard how animals have a fight-or-flight response? That response is also a part of our make-up. Not only is it a part of our make-up, it still happens as automatically as it does for that animal.

For survival’s sake, our bodies do not need for our minds to take the time to consider a risk analysis. It needs for our minds to go on automatic while our bodies get out of the way. Imagine again, being alive millenia ago. Imagine walking down that path we mentioned. Imagine seeing a shadow move across the path. Our body does not need for us to have this thought: “Hmmm, I wonder if that was a saber-tooth tiger? Or maybe it was just my imagination? Perhaps a bird flying by?” By this time, if it were a saber-tooth tiger, our questions would have ceased, and a very satisfied tiger would remain.

And if we determined that it was, indeed a tiger in time, our mind does not need for us to ask the question: “should I run away? Or perhaps I should climb that tree? Or maybe I can scare the tiger away?” Our body needs us not to think, but to act. And in order for it to act, our body goes on automatic. It responds in ways that are almost impossible (notice the “almost” part) to control.

We see the shadow, and our pulse quickens, our breathing becomes more rapid. Our stomach tenses, and our palms become sweaty. Perhaps we even feel our feet take on a life of their own: they want us to run, move, get clear of the danger!

Our brain and body need for this to happen nearly instantaneously. That is what is necessary to survive. So we perceive a threat, and we respond.

Now, fast-forward those millenia. There are no saber-tooth tigers. Rarely do we find ourselves below the top position on the food chain. And our threats have become much more difficult to ascertain. Who is the enemy? Is it that person around the corner? Is it the boss? Is it our spouse? We still feel that immediate and automatic response to a sense of threat, even if that threat turns out to be nothing more than someone who had a bad day, someone who is not a threat but a grouch!

We have this automated system that scans for threats.  That is true for all crawling, flying, swimming and walking creatures.  There is only one difference for humans:  we add our thoughts into the process.  We feel some natural anxiety, but decide there is a threat.  Then we move into fear mode.

Think about two events for a moment.  Recall something that made you excited, gave you an adrenaline rush that you would seek out.  Now recall something that scared you, made your stomach do flip-flops and that you would avoid.

Got it in your mind?  For your body, there is no difference between those two reactions.  Your body is doing the exact same thing in either case.  The same chemicals are being released.  Your muscles are responding in the exact same way (including your heart)!  The difference between those two events?  Only the thoughts you attribute to each item.

And the same event may be interpreted in opposite ways by different people.  For example, I SCUBA dive.  I love it.  I find the experience to be exhilirating and freeing.  My wife does not care for the water.  The thought of being 80 feet below the surface is more frightening than exciting.

The task is to work through whether the fear is really protecting us, or if we are adding our thoughts in.  In other words, it is once again about becoming aware of our thoughts.  Once we are aware of the thoughts, we can choose to act in spite of feeling fear.  The presence of the fear is non-negotiable.

Misunderstanding Forgiveness

A recent AP Story:

Families can’t forgive Nebraska mall shooter

Nebraska Mall Shooting

Nebraska Mall Shooting

OMAHA, Neb. – Christmas decorations are in place and holiday music fills
the atrium, yet a gloom punctuates the shopping season at the Westroads
Mall.

Employees, their families and friends planned to gather Friday at the steps
of the Von Maur department store in remembrance of the eight people killed
a year ago in the deadliest mall shooting in U.S. history.

“I carry the visible signs of Dec. 5,” said 62-year-old Fred Wilson, who
nearly died that day. “Other employees saw things I didn’t. They may carry
their wounds on the inside.”

Wilson went back to work part-time at the mall after Memorial Day. He says
there was never any question in his mind that he should be there.

He can no longer wrap gifts at work – his right arm is still in a sling,
and he can barely move his fingers.

“I came to a degree of forgiveness … when I was in the hospital,” Wilson
said. He tries to help others learn how to forgive, speaking at churches
and schools and seminars.

“I was blessed to have lived,” he said. For those whose loved ones did not,
he understands it’s a different story.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Hawkins gunned down eight people on Dec. 5, 2007,
before turning the gun on himself.

Hawkins entered the Von Maur department store in west Omaha and briefly
looked around before exiting. He returned a few minutes later with an
assault-style rifle hidden under his sweatshirt.

He took an elevator to the third floor and opened fire.

Police found no connection between Hawkins and his targets, only a suicide
note that said he wanted “to take a few peices (sic) of (expletive) with
me.”

The upscale department store, decked with Christmas decorations, lost six
employees that day. Two customers also were killed.

Ron Jorgensen lost his wife of “50 years and three months.” Her voice
remains on his telephone answering machine. The American flag continues to
wave at half-staff in his front yard.

“I’ve lost everything,” he said. “I will never forgive Robbie Hawkins or
his parents.”

Greg O’Neil prefers not to even speak Hawkins’ name.

“I don’t know when, or if ever I’ll ever be able to forgive him,” he said.
“I can’t even put those words into a sentence including that person.”

O’Neil worked at Von Maur as a loss-prevention manager for nearly five
years before finding a new job in 2006, so he knew most of the people
killed or injured. He left his job so he could date employee Angie Schuster
without violating company rules. They later got engaged.

“Just remembering her smile. Oh, her smile,” he said. Her belongings still
fill his home. He visits her grave every couple of weeks.

On Friday, Von Maur employees have the option of taking the day off, said
company president Jim von Maur.

“We don’t want to put pressure on those employees who don’t feel they can
do it,” he said.

In Moline, Ill., the family of the youngest victim planned to gather to
remember the good times they had with Maggie Webb, who also worked at the
store.

“We’re going to encourage friends and family to light a candle,” said
Webb’s sister, Bre Clark. “And we’re going to light a bonfire and shine a
light to her in heaven.”

But forgiveness isn’t likely to be mentioned. Clark doesn’t believe she
could offer that to Hawkins.

“I honestly believe forgiveness is something that the killer needs to ask
for from the Lord and not from me,” she said.

Hawkins was well-known in the state’s juvenile courts and social services
agencies. A habitual drug user and troublemaker, he was in and out of
foster homes.

During his time as a state ward, he was diagnosed with depression,
attention deficit disorder, impulsiveness and a malady characterized by
hostility toward authority figures. He was convicted of third-degree
assault and attempting to sell drugs at school.

Hawkins spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and
foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002. Before the
shooting, he had broken up with a girlfriend and lost his job at a
McDonald’s.

A year after Hawkins’ deadly rampage, Von Maur employees try to busy
themselves with the holiday shopping season. Security guards stand on the
balconies. A plaque at the bottom of the escalator memorializes the victims.

By ANNA JO BRATTON and JOSH FUNK     Associated Press Writers

First, let me say that my topic today will upset some folks.  But I will be upsetting most of them out of a misunderstanding of my thrust.  Let me say that I feel great compassion for people who have suffered tragedies.  In fact, I feel so much compassion that it pains me on how much hurt is added to ourselves.

I am not “picking” on the folks involved, and certainly not wanting to make an example out of the victims.  Because the truth is, what I am addressing is so widespread that I would say it is a rampant belief.

Here is the belief:  “I can’t/won’t forgive ______ (fill in the blank) because,” then pick your reason:

  • They don’t deserve it.
  • That lets them off the hook.
  • Then I have to forget it.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • I want justice.
  • etc., etc., etc.

Let me point out what is behind the belief:  somehow, forgiveness is FOR the other person.

And that is the problem, the fallacy of this.  After helping people to move toward forgiveness, thinking about the topic, teaching on the topic, and trying to apply this to my own life, I have realized their are two paradigms of forgiveness.

  1. I forgive for the other person.
  2. I forgive for myself.

Many of us keep getting caught in paradigm #1.  So let’s explore that for a moment.  This assumption is really built on several factors.

The first factor is biological.  Your brain is designed to keep you alive.  It holds onto threats, locks them in, and is unhappy about letting them go.  So, our biological design is to keep a filing cabinet full of potential and past threats.  But when our thoughts, our mind, grab hold of those threats, we shift them to resentments.  We store them as memories to play over and over in our minds, with a commentary about how we were hurt.

It is one thing to have a brain watching for threats and a mind constantly playing through our hurts.  One is protective.  The other weighs us down.  The first keeps us safe, the second keeps us captive.

Then we have all the religious and cultural messages about how we “have to forgive.”  In other words, our culture betrays us and tells us we have to forgive the other person for that other person.  It misses the true message of forgiveness.  Too bad.

You see, in this case, the truth is behind door #2.  We forgive for ourselves.  We choose to forgive so that we can move forward.

I am reminded here of one of Buddhism’s understandings:  every life has joys and every life has pains.  They are inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  Suffering is becoming attached to the pains.

That is what NOT forgiving is about.  When we refuse to forgive (it is a choice, whether we recognize that or not), we are attaching ourselves to our pain.  We end up suffering.

Forgiveness is about refusing to be held captive from what has happened.  It is choosing to move forward, to take back our lives from tragedy.  It is refusing to lose ourselves to what has happened.  It is about choosing the life we want to live.

In this context, there is nothing that is unforgivable, because it is no longer about holding the other accountable (in this case, a dead man), but in choosing to move forward.

The whole notion of something as unforgivable is caught in the paradigm that forgiveness is for the other person.  That traps us.  And generally, it has no effect on the other person.

Let me be clear:  people have to work through their grief at their own pace.  At some point, for there to be real healing, forgiveness must be part of the process.  And anytime we slow that process down because we have convinced ourselves that forgiveness is for the other person, we have merely increased our pain.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.—Unknown

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.–George Herbert

Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.—Unknown

What is Thriveology and Thriving?

You may be asking, “What is Thriveology?” Simply put, this is a term I am using to describe the art and science (and the study of) thriving.

In my opinion, the majority of people are basically managing life, just getting by. This is “survival mode.” In that mode, you keep your head down, try to avoid too much struggle or conflict, and hope problems will pass. (They don’t!)

Some people ascribe to the idea of being resilient. I did. This is the idea that when something tough or bad happens, you “bounce back.” In other words, you get to the point where you are functioning as well as you were before the problem. If you are sick, for instance, when you get better you return to your normal routine.

Then there are those few who actually use crisis, conflict, and difficulties to move ahead of where they were. Or even without a crisis, these people work to live life to the fullest level possible! They are after optimal living. These people, I refer to as Thrivers. Something naturally within them keeps them in thriving mode.

Those who do not naturally have these attributes can still learn them. We all can become students of the skills of thriving. When we take that on, we are what I refer to as Thrivealists!

You probably know about Survivalists, those who are convinced that something bad is going to happen, so they had better be prepared. Well, a Thrivealist nurtures a different belief. Thrivealists have a sneaking suspicion that things are going to work out alright.

That brings us to this blog. Here, we will examine the traits of those who thrive. We will become Thrivealists by studying Thriveology! Can you think of a better tool for living?

By the way, if you know of people who thrive, let me know. I will be adding profiles of thrivers as often as possible.

It Ain’t About Happiness!

The last couple of years have led to an avalanche of books on happiness. It seems that we are in a “happiness” epidemic. Specials on TV (20/20 had a recent show, for example), and articles in magazines all point to our capacity for happiness.

This is NOT what I mean by Thriving! Understand, I don’t think people should avoid happiness. I just don’t think that is the target to aim for. We have started using happiness as the goal, not the side-effect.

And that is why the “happiness movement” will fail. Happiness ends up being elusive, difficult to control, and open to a wide range of definitions. In fact, I think we have reduced any chance of happiness now being a useful term. Some use the idea of euphoria as a definition, others are describing joy and contentment but say happiness, and still others are really looking for that fleeting feeling.

You see, I believe that happiness is actually an external reference. In other words, something has to happen “out there” for me to be happy. Perhaps living in a bigger house, living in different geological location, having other gadgets, finding a new love, or some other change will make me happy. But I have only so much control of the “out there.” And research is showing that in lots of ways, we have a certain “set point.” When something good or bad happens, within a year to year-and-a-half, we return to our previous level of happiness (or unhappiness).

But thriving, that is an internal activity. I can choose to follow a thriving life, regardless of what is going on around me. I don’t have to have new stuff, new love, or a new house to be thriving. And since it is about forming habits of thriving, I can raise my base level of thriving over and over. I can continue to push forward and learn to thrive, IN SPITE of life events. I really can choose to thrive.

Try to choose to be happy. You may be able to do that in the short-term, but it is hard to sustain. But thriving, that is sustainable and achievable by anyone.

So, to say it clearly, Happiness DOES NOT EQUAL Thriving.

HAPPINESS                                             THRIVING
External                                                 Internal
Short-Term                                           Long-Term
Feeling                                                  Action
Set-Point                                               Base-Point