3 simple ways to go from surviving to thriving
Life can zoom past in a blur. Too often we become complacent and content with just surviving and ‘getting by’ we can forget that we can thrive and really enjoy each moment. Today, I’m excited to share a guest post from Aaron Whitten, in collaboration with Gym and Fitness Australia, who gives us the run down on how we can go from surviving to thriving in 3 easy steps.
Modern life can be absolutely nuts.
At no point in human history have we worked so many hours and had so little time to enjoy ourselves. We spend over twenty times as many weeks working as we do on vacation!
We lack the time to slow down and savour the things that really matter, like our friends, family and hobbies. We rush from work to the grocery store, to home and sometimes back to work and spend our weekends preparing for the following week.
When you live life in a blur like this it is easy to feel like you are simply trying to keep your head above water. It is during those rare moments of downtime that we occasionally reflect on our situation and ponder if this is really all it is about. As with all things it becomes a matter of assessment and action to make meaningful changes to the time we have on this planet.
When assessing a clients lifestyle I have a short checklist of three things that I feel are necessary to achieve personal happiness.
This can be defined in several ways and they are all correct because it will mean something a bit different to everyone. When explaining vitality I ask my client to think of a child; a young child is in every way full of life. Energy, drive, curiosity and the simple desire to have fun are present in all children.
I think we all are endowed with this spirit of vitality at birth and our traumas of life can diminish it. Call it what you will, the Holy Spirit, chi, life flow, they are all the same essentially and we all tend to lose it. But it isn’t gone forever! It can be re-attained and when it is, especially after a long absence, it can feel stronger than ever.
How do you get your mojo back?
Well, the next two items on the checklist are often the hot ticket but I like to start first with physical well-being. Why? Because the mind and body are absolutely interconnected. If one is compromised so is the other.
I prefer to say it this way though: A weakened spirit is strengthened by a healthy body. We want to nourish our vitality by improving our physicality. Here is how I like to approach this critical step.
There are a million exercise routines out there and just as many products and trainers just waiting to leap onto a newbie. Look at the dropout rate though, it’s sky high. As a trainer for many years I can tell you it is because of over enthusiasm. Folks jump in with both feet because they want to affect change immediately. This is admirable but unlikely to work because they are neglecting the mental component of any lifestyle change.
Habits must be gradually instituted as painlessly as possible to really stick. Exercising vigorously 5 days in a row after being sedentary for years is guaranteed to generate negative connotations in anyone.
Start slow! You don’t need a gym at all. I recommend you start by picking a time to take a long walk with a friend or loved one. That’s it.
After a few weeks of this you can add some stretching and a few weeks later we can discuss some basic body weight exercises. It should take six months to get up to speed. By that point the majority of gym goers have long since given up.
Nutrition is the same. Switching to a radically different eating plan overnight only makes you miss your old habits. Instead I recommend choosing just one action item weekly. Examples are adding a piece of fruit, omitting one bad food or taking a vitamin. Whatever your weakness is we act upon it. Every week or so we add another action item. Again, over the course of six months or so you will be following a healthy meal plan without cravings or hassle. Remember the Kaizen principle tiny things over time become HUGE, like the seed of a redwood.
Now that we have addressed the physical elements of vitality it is time to look at the underpinnings which are critical to success.
This brings me to my second item on the checklist:
Vitality and passion are so closely interwoven that they can be almost interchangeable.
Passion is what fuels our inner fire and brings us satisfaction at the end of the day and our lives. Passion is what defines us and what molds our very existence. Without it we are no more than drones, automatons clicking off days until we expire.
Passion is the difference between hours flying by when you are falling in love and minutes dragging on forever at a dull job.
In essence, passion is why we live. And the beautiful thing about it is that no two passions must be or can be the same. You define it, not someone else.
Passion is true freedom of expression, which is powerful. It is that inner power that fuels our vitality, making us vibrant and alive. Passion is the key difference between thriving and surviving.
Everyone has either found their passion or is waiting for it to find them. Both are great and neither is better. If a person knows their passion then we are ready for the next step on the checklist.
If not then the period of real excitement begins, immediately sparking vitality.
I love it when a person says they haven’t found their passion because I know what it means when they will- its often a transformation on the spiritual level that will rekindle their love of life.
In order to find it a person must begin a thrilling journey of self -discovery that leads them to places they have never been. The first step is simple: list one thing that you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet. It can be anything from learning the piano to installing cabinets. There is no wrong answer. And there is no guarantee that it will be their calling; in fact we hope it isn’t. Prolonging the search is fantastic, opening the mind to new avenues and adventures. It also invariably leads to the next thing to try, continuing until they have found their passion. Once this is achieved, truly living instead of surviving is nearly complete.
The final thing on the checklist:
You may want to call it going outside the box or bending the rules, whatever it means to you.
What I convey to my clients is that it means no longer allowing yourself to be constrained by what society perceives to be acceptable.
Often that same standard of normalcy is what confines us to merely surviving in the first place. In a practical sense this means doing what you want in order to be who you want. Do not let yourself ever say that you cannot do something.
We create our own limitations and we can also eliminate them.
Perhaps you have decided that you want to be a concert pianist and that your dream is to perform in the London orchestra. Who has the right to deny you that happiness? We live in a beautiful period where a person can become what they choose. Use this freedom and find your inner joy.
The final step on the checklist, non-conformity, is the simplest yet the scariest.
Embrace the fear and let it fuel your vitality. Every tiny success you achieve in the face of disparity is incredibly motivating.
Don’t wait for your life to begin tomorrow, seize it today.
There you have it, a simple formula for thriving instead of surviving. Maximize your vitality by finding your passion and let nothing stand in the way of achieving it. Optimize your physical well -being so that it can house your inner genius for decades to come. Laugh at negativity and begin to live for your own happiness.
Following these steps will mold you into a person that others respect and admire and most importantly, inspire. Soon you find yourself flourishing inside and out, no longer a slave to normalcy.
Get out there and live!
This post was written by Aaron Whitten in collaboration with Gym and Fitness Australia. Aaron Whitten is 40 years of age, married and living in Arizona. He graduated from ASU and currently completing a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. His career goal is to integrate nutrition, fitness and medicine to achieve ultimate health. He dedicated his life to bodybuilding competitions and power lifting and began competing over twenty years ago. He has done over sixty contests and three dozen power meets. You can find out more about Aaron here.