Welcome to Thriving Life , a new column of ChicagoPride, designed to help empower LGBT readers lead lives of passion, power, and purpose. It's about becoming who you genuinely are and expressing that passionately and powerfully in the world.
Do you find yourself hunkered down in survival mode most of your day? Just getting through the day, paying the next bill, managing your problems? Or are you living a thriving life, relishing the challenges ahead of you, and creating the life you want? Here are 10 simple practices for stepping out of your old survival mindset and into an expansive, thriving life.
- Say the bold thing. Say your truth. Survival keeps us silent and compliant. Don't rock the boat. Don't be inappropriate. Straighten up. Fuck that! Speak up where you've been timid. Say what you've withheld before. You may catch some flak. You may make some messes you have to clean up. But you may also start some new conversations on a whole new level. And you deeply affirm yourself.
- Join the adventure. Survival mode loves routine. Makes everything absolutely predictable and without risk. Wrings all the juice out of life and sets it up on the shelf to shrivel and die. Thriving life is an adventure, every moment fraught with possibility and the unknown. You can make your daily commute a mind-numbing routine . . . or you can talk to a stranger and make it an adventure.
- Step into your essence. I believe that every single human being has a uniquely individual core or "essence" that is absolutely wonderful. And it's so easy to lose touch with. Ask five friends, "What's great about me?" Write down what they say. This is a signpost to your authentic essence, the true you. Guiding clients to live from their essence is one of the fundamental principles of my coaching practice.
- Kindle your spark. What gives you joy and juice? Humor? Laugher? Music? Art? Conversation? Nature? For me, it's making photographs and having soulful conversations. I love being on the water too. Whatever it is for you, get more of it into your daily life. Make it a priority. Giving yourself daily experiences of your joy and spark (even five minutes) will open up new possibilities for you.
- Do something amazing today. I hate how the word "amazing" has been cheapened to mean simply something really great. It originally meant to cause astonishment and wonder. In other words, to be confronted with something that's not on our map of the world, something for which we have no interpretive framework. Think of Native American's reaction to Columbus' ships as they sailed up to the shores of the New World. Do something totally off your map today. (I once wore a tuxedo with tails to work, just because! Did I feel fully alive that day!)
- Set your own standards – and raise them. What are you tolerating in your life? What irritations have you allowed yourself to become habituated to? Where are you settling? Pick some area of your life – your home, work, play, relationships, spirituality – and set a new standard for yourself. These are not somebody else's standards you have to live up to in order to feel worthy. These are your own standards you adopt out of self-respect.
- Develop deeper friendships. I have friends who are fun and friends who nourish my soul. Often they're the same people! My truest friends will not allow me to settle for being a diminished me. They're interested in more than my comfort. They challenge me to become more than I am today.
- Take on an impossible challenge with your whole heart. (And it's okay if you fail.) The survival mind keeps to a limited set of possibilities within its comfort zone. The thriving mind takes on the impossible wholeheartedly. I once thought the idea of training for and completing a marathon impossible for me. But I made the commitment to go for it, got support (thanks Team to End AIDS!), and today I've run seven marathons—completing five. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything – even those years I didn't complete the race. Committing myself to a huge goal opened up all sorts of new possibilities, experiences, and friendships for me. What's your next big thing?
- Seek out inspiration. Thriving is generated from within, but it is nourished from without. Actively seek out that which inspires and compels you. I have a "Joy File" of images, texts, and videos that remind me what life is about. Here's an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBaHPND2QJg
- Engage in Pride Month joyously! Celebrate yourself with others.