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