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Thriving as you age or after a circumstance beyond your present status is a result of reinvention or to play on the Star Trek theme: “Going where you have never gone before”.
Allow me to elaborate. Life’s hiccups or changes have a way of showing up in unexpected ways. One day, you’re 30 and you wake up and you’re 50, and then 60 and on and on. OR, one day you wake up and you have a life-changing situation. I like to refer to them as “landmines”. People are just bopping through life not expecting any particular event and then wham - something life altering happens. It wasn’t much of a blip on the screen before or even if it was, we thought we could deal with it or even stop it from happening. Wrong!
How do we deal with these landmines or points of explosive, unexpected circumstance? AND, how do we not only deal with the initial shock, but also continue far beyond the aftermath? How do we deal with the resulting circumstance? Another way of looking at it is how do we force ourselves beyond just SURVIVING to THRIVING?
Survival in itself can be a very difficult task In a person’s lifetime, he or she may be called upon to survive many types of losses, painful events, both physical and emotional but I suggest you should push hard and go well beyond being just a survivor to a place I call THRIVING.
While it’s a blessing to survive, it implies getting past a “bad” thing – e.g. the holocaust, an accident, a devastating illness, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a job loss, a bankruptcy, to name only a few.
We were/are a “victim” of something beyond our control, something awful. We probably receive sympathy from friends and family and no doubt the kindness of others is appreciated. We didn’t ask for nor do we feel we deserve or expect it. No one wants bad things to happen but in reality they do. We cry, and ask “why me.” But we do survive and we eventually do get better. Our body and mind heal leaving us with a scar or two. We cannot remain exactly as we were before. Even our heart heals, but we may be leery of ever taking the risk of opening to love again and having our heart broken again. Our bank account improves but as a result we might needlessly start hoarding our money as a protection.
The one big lingering question is: Do we or can we then THRIVE… after a life changing event? To THRIVE simply means to prosper, flourish, and grow vigorously.
Do we move past and beyond? Will we enjoy an improved, possibly unimagined and better life AFTER? Do we take a chance and go beyond where we have never been before? Will we become a stronger person - ? Do we THRIVE after?
Many experience these devastating circumstances, play it very safe in their cocoons, don’t take risks and live out their lives. I don’t doubt that they are appreciative and grateful to survive; however, the end result is simply to settle. NOTE: Just getting older and dealing with the physical and emotional ramifications of that qualify here as a circumstance.
However, is this limitation good for you?
I give you the following list of incredible people as examples of not just surviving but thriving. I am grateful they chose not to settle. If they had everyone would have missed out on their gifts.
Randy Pausch - He gave us the Last Lecture and taught us to live in spite of illness.
Hellen Keller (She showed us her strength and fortitude in spite of overwhelming handicaps.
Stephen Hawking He gave us products of his scientific mind.
Viktor Frankl - He survived the holocaust to write Mans’ Search for Meaning.
Robin Roberts - She publicly fought breast cancer on television and inspired us all.
Lance Armstrong - He survived testicular cancer to form the Live Strong org.
Robert Kiyosaki - He went through bankruptcy and failure to teach us better way to handle money.
Robert Downing, Jr. - He nearly died from drug abuse but was able to overcome his addiction and return to the entertainment world stronger than before.to entertain us.
John Walsh After losing his own child to an abductor, he started the America’s Most Wanted to help others who have also suffered the same loss.
Jean-Dominique Bauby - Although totally paralyzed he wrote, The Diving Bell.
Each one lived through and beyond their individual set of circumstances to improve their lives and made the world a better place for everyone. They THRIVED.
Ask yourself what if they had simply settled? The answer is simple, we would not have benefited from their examples.
I have personally survived a few dire events. I’ll spare the details, but merely mention:
• My parents bitter divorce.
• My father’s death when I was 19.
• The loss of two brothers when I as 32.One died from cancer when only 27 and then two and a half weeks later, my other brother died in an automobile accident at age 38
• My mother’s death when I was 40.
• My difficult divorce after 25 years.
• Most recently, breast cancer and the development of an auto-immune disorder
Like so many other survivors I’ve yelled, screamed and even questioned God along the way. Why did all of this happen to me? Well-meaning friends and family would say, “Ann, you always land on your feet.” A cat analogy I love.
I learned long ago that my true purpose in life is to inspire others to move beyond just surviving. Through the years, I have been fortunate to carry out my purpose through my work, as an educator, a manager, a psychotherapist and now as a speaker, coach and writer.
My life is THRIVING because for me it’s all about giving to others and in turn enjoying seeing the good I can bring to people’s lives. I have, most adamantly, decided I am not ready to leave this world yet. I still have much to do and gifts to bestow, and with this life is a continuing education.
So how do you move beyond being just survivor, AND make the most of what life throws your way, find an inner strength and THRIVE?
• Make your daily mantra – “I want my life to be different.” Or “It doesn’t have to be the way it’s always been!” You declare a willingness to NOT stay where you are no matter what.
• Go with the flow take the path life offers.
• Share your experiences with others. Technology has opened so many ways to “talk” with others – universally! My choice is my blog.
• Identify the “gifts” you’re incurring from your experience and share them.
• Be someone that helps others in similar circumstances and be there for support.
• Setup a structure to do something that calls you to be bigger than you know yourself to be.
• Convey a message that will inspire others to move forward.
The best gift all is first, you did survive the circumstances or you have traveled to a ripe age. Second, you view your experience as a calling to create something better for many….Not just to boost your ego, but for the value of encouraging people to move forward.
Choose to be the example, the voice, and the beacon!
Ann Fry, MSW, is a professional speaker and a reinvention strategist. She works with companies and with individuals who are ready for things to be different. Ann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-895-9695. Her website is www.annfry.com. She is the author of her memoir: Sixty, Sexy, Sassy and Free: A Real Woman’s Story of Reinvention AND her reinvention workbook entitled: When You Want Things to be Different: 7 1/2 Steps to Transcend the Status Quo. Her books are available at www.annfry.com.
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