What Will it Be? Just Be Alive or Choose to Thrive?

(A five minute read) “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”~ Howard Thurman

What does it actually mean to be alive? I love words, their origin and all their shades of meaning which is why I love dictionaries. (There are worse vices you know.) I got a kick out of dictionary.com’s definition of alive. See what I mean? It’s a broad range, isn’t it?  All the way from “not dead” clear up to “lively” and “vibrant”. Where would you like to be on the spectrum?

  1. having lifeliving; existing; not dead or lifeless.
  2. living (used for emphasis):the proudest man alive.
  3. in a state of action; in force or operation; active:to keep hope alive.
  4. full of energy and spirit; lively:Grandmother’s more alive than most of her contemporaries.
  5. having the quality of life; vivid; vibrant:the room was alive with color.

 How about the meaning of thrive? (The bolded words are my emphasis.)

  1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful.
  2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish:The children thrived in the country.

The origin of the word thrive is even more interesting. It comes from Old Norse thrifask which means to grasp for oneself. Hmmm. As in grab life by the horns? Go for the gusto? Reach for the stars? So much for the linguistics lesson.

I’d like to share some thoughts with you from two excellent books with the title Thrive. The first was written in 2009 by National Geographic researcher Dan Buettner and is subtitled Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. Here’s part of the description from Amazon; “What makes us happy? It’s not wealth, youth, beauty, or intelligence, says Dan Buettner. (Insert from me: Whew, that’s good news!) In fact, most of us have the keys within our grasp. Circling the globe to study the world’s happiest populations, Buettner has spotted several common principles that can unlock the doors to true contentment with our lives.”

Buettner’s incredibly broad research helped him create a practical plan to help his readers optimize their ability to get more satisfaction out of life by making good life choices. (There’s that critical word again; choices.) They’re actually more what we might call adjustments, and often just slight changes. Buettner divides them into three categories that make up the way we live: the food we eat, the way we exercise, and the social networks we foster. It’s all about nourishing the body and the spirit, something we strongly encourage you to do in our system.

The lessons we learn from some of the world’s happiest citizens can help us make the right choices, find more meaning and purpose in our own lives and learn how to thrive. If you’d enjoy knowing more about BlueZones living, there’s a wealth of information on their website https://www.bluezones.com/.

More recently I discovered another great book which is beautifully aligned with the How to Know Your Why way of living. This book was written in 2014 by media mogul Arianna Huffington. It’s also called Thrive and the subtitle is The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.  Huffington’s book is an intimate story of a major wake-up call she had in 2007 when she woke up on the floor of her office in a puddle of blood. She had pushed herself to the limit of exhaustion and passed out, breaking her cheekbone on the corner of her desk as she fell.

It’s  unfortunate that it often takes a near tragedy to make us realize our priorities are quite simply out of whack. That incident proved to be a major moment of clarity for Huffington and caused her to re-evaluate her relentless drive for the traditional definitions of success; money and power. She came to the startling realization that her health and well-being were far more important and she completely reinvented herself by making new choices.

She knew that she needed to change the way she chose to define success. Huffington explained, “Over time, our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power. In fact, at this point, success, money, and power have practically become synonymous in the minds of many. This idea of success can work – or at least appear to work – in the short term. But over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool – you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.”

That third leg, or what she calls the third metric of success, is what she describes as an ability to engage our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. Not the qualities traditionally associated with success, but as Huffington realized, we need to redefine success.

She makes many hilarious observations in Thrive. Like the things we never hear in eulogies, for example, “She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.” Or: “His PowerPoint slides were always meticulously prepared.”

Funny stuff, but as we say in the summary of our system, we each create our legacy and our eulogy one day at a time by the countless small choices we make in our lives. In the end, we will be remembered much more for the impact we had on the people whose lives we touched and how we made them feel for having known us.

I do love this quote from her book, “Imagine how our culture, how our lives, will change when we begin valuing go-givers as much as we value go-getters.” What a beautiful thought!

If you’d like to learn more about thriving and about finding greater purpose and meaning in your life, we encourage you to subscribe to our website. It’s free and easy to do. When you subscribe you’ll receive a summary of how our system can work in your life. It is beautifully illustrated with color photos and is easy to read and understand. And, we’ll send you a notification twice a week when a new post is published. That’s all, we promise we won’t flood your in-box! We’ll be looking for you!



  • Grant Newbold

    Dear Blog Subscriber. Betty not only puts her heart and soul into her writing but she puts in considerable effort and time to write and post each of these pieces. In addition, she has started recording them and putting that recording in the blog also. On my computer it appears as a black line with an arrow on the left and a speaker, for volume control, on the right. Click on the arrow and it starts the spoken blog for you. This is another way that she strives to make this information user friendly. Now you can listen to her blog, in her voice, for those times when reading isn’t handy. Like when doing other activities around the house, driving, relaxing when you don’t feel up to reading, etc. etc.. Thanks again Betty for your efforts and innovations that make this material so user friendly. Thanks blog subscriber for viewing our website. Talk to you again soon. Grant “Doc” Newbold.

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