Survive or Thrive?

Mon. June 2, 2014 12:00 AM
by Daniel Lewis

Welcome to Thriving Life, a new column of, aimed to inspire and empower LGBT readers lead lives of passion, power, and purpose.

Every so often I write out a vision statement for myself – a statement of how I want to live my life. It helps me get clear about what's really important to me. It's not so much about what I want to have or accomplish. It's about how I want to live. And lately I've been thinking about the idea thriving .

Now I don't know about you, but I was trained to settle for "good enough," for "okay," for "getting by."

Growing up in a poor rural Oklahoma town of 80 people, one step below working class, we learned to set our sights on the next bill to be paid and making the food last to the end of the month. We did what we had to do to scratch out a living. (It's still a matter of family embarrassment that I'm the only one who has never operated a chain saw!)

It wasn't simply a matter of poverty. It was a more general attitude of scarcity and unworthiness – a smallness of heart, of imagination, of aspiration. You can't expect too much from life, much less create it yourself, was the unspoken message. So keep to your place. Don't get your hopes up. Make do with what you've been handed. Settle.

I was trained to simply survive.

Over the years, especially since becoming a life coach, I've learned to see the subtle ways that survival mentality has limited my vision, stunted my aspirations, sapped my satisfaction.

I've learned survival is not good enough.

I want to thrive.

A Manifesto for Thriving

Thrive [thrahyv] Verb (used without object) to grow or develop vigorously; flourish : The children thrived in the country.

I choose to thrive wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whoever I am with. Thriving is a choice and a way of being, not a circumstance. I am more than my circumstances.

I choose to jump in with both feet, splash in puddles, and make some noise. Thriving is bold action and engagement, not some static state of perfection, comfort, or nirvana.

I choose the way of becoming more each day. Thriving demands growing and expanding my current me – my abilities, my vision, my aspirations, my capacity for love – beyond today's horizons. And tomorrow's. Until the day I die.

I choose to seek out those who embrace me as I am -- and prod me to become more. Thriving's dark, rich, nourishing soil is community. No one truly thrives alone.

I choose to step boldly into the unknown, to welcome the unanticipated, to embrace the reversal. Thriving is full of messiness, surprises, not being in control. There is no master plan that can contain the opportunistic burgeoning of life set free.

I choose hardiness, vigor, and tenacity. I reject the small choice and take on the impossible things. Thriving is inner robustness and strength in the face of overwhelming obstacles. The most delicate flower cracks through the hardest concrete.

I choose to joyfully kindle my own fire with the inspirations I gather from the world around me. Thriving is lit from within, nourished from without.

I choose to laugh often and out loud at the preposterous proposition life affords me. Thriving holds soul-joy at its center.

I claim Eros as my own. Thriving is sexy.

I will not settle.

I will not be contained.


How do you thrive? Or perhaps you have a manifesto of your own? Leave a comment. Plant a seed.