Why You May Be Thriving (And Not Even Know It!)

I am having a rough week, how about you? Nothing big, just that mountain of little things that seem to pile up and overwhelm me like in the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles." One or two tribbles is no big deal, but when they start swarming the ship? We all have days like that, even weeks and sadly, sometimes months and years. Sometimes it feels like you cannot handle a single thing more, no matter how small; there is a reason the expression "the straw that broke the camel's back" is so ubiquitous. But here's the thing: You can handle it and quite frankly, you will. And P.S., no camel EVER had its damned back broken by a piece of straw, no matter what else it was carrying at the time.

We persevere, don't we? Over and over again, no matter what the situation we are facing, no matter how many "tribbles" keep piling into our sanctuary, we keep on keepin' on. Because we have to, really. I mean, consider the alternative. And even when our burden is light, undoubtedly we have friends and family who are going through some kind of mess or another, and then we reach out a hand if we have one free and lend an ear whenever possible. Human beings are pretty amazing, actually. That is what I've learned over and over in my life, and this knowledge keeps the pep in my step most of the time. We persevere, often even cheerfully! And as we do this, we inspire and connect and keep true to our path.

There is a wonderful exchange in the movie "While You Were Sleeping" (holla, Bill Pullman!) between a father and his son, in which the father imparts this wisdom: "You know, son? Life is a pain in the ass. You work hard, try to provide for your family and for one minute, everything's good. Everyone's well ... and in that one minute, you have peace." To which his son replies, "Pop? This is not that minute." HA! LOVE THAT! Because sometimes it feels like it's NEVER that minute, never was that minute and never will be that minute. And life is a pain in the ass, without a doubt in the world. But we love it anyway, just like we love our pain-in-the-ass relatives, just like we love our pain-in-the-ass friends and just like we love our pain-in-the-ass selves. It's all worth it somehow, all worth the colossal pain-in-the-assiness being alive entails. We persevere because we have to; but also, because we WANT to, right?

And here's a little secret for you about all of it: All of this talk about "thriving" vs. "surviving" is a whole lot of codswallop because you can't have one without the other. If you don't have the tools, the desire and the gumption to survive, you are never truly going to thrive. Thriving requires bravery. You can't sit on the sidelines and thrive, you have to know that when the sh*t hits the fan (and it ALWAYS does, sooner or later) you will be capable of running the necessary play. You aren't going to curl up under the bench and hope nobody sees you, you are going to run out on the field and GET. IT. DONE. If you don't know in your heart this is true, you can never truly be described as thriving, no matter how nice your house or how good your job. Because you are afraid. Afraid of losing the externals you think define you, afraid of what might be around the next dark corner.

I looked up the definition to the word thriving and was amused to see it doesn't all exactly jibe with our common notions about it... for example, one definition was "to make steady progress" -- another was "to be fortunate or successful." These are not exactly the same thing, are they? You can't make steady progress without direction and effort, but you can be fortunate without even getting out of bed. Direction and effort are a decision and an accomplishment; fortune is a gift, and like all gifts it is transient and retractable. Another definition I found for thriving was "to grow vigorously." I like this one best of all, it seems the most proper and helpful. Because when we sit on "easy street" we do not grow at all, least of all vigorously. It is through our perseverance that we grow, in strength, wisdom and most of all resilience. And resilience is the key to life. You will fall, you will be overwhelmed, you will want to scream in frustration at all of the pain-in-the-ass details you need to attend to, but you will overcome and live to fight another day. You will be thriving. And when you are thriving, your problems often end up being no tribble at all.