I’ve been reflecting these past few months about my hopes and dreams for my family. And one of those dreams is that everyone in my family would not simply survive, but thrive.
Surviving is about the basic requirements of life: food, shelter, safety, and relationships. It even includes a basic sense of purpose in life – something to do to occupy our time.
But what is it to thrive, to live well, and to live abundantly?
Part of thriving is discovering deeper purpose in life – something larger to captivate our attention. This purpose is more than occupying our time; it’s a legacy we want to leave. I’ve been dealing with that aspect of thriving in my posts on “Living a Life of Purpose” from March.
There are basic qualities that we need to nurture in ourselves in order to nourish our thriving. I believe these four qualities mark the difference between a life of going through the motions and a life of richness, fullness, and abundance. They’re qualities that require attention and work. They don’t necessarily shield us from difficulty, pain, or struggle, though. Rather, these qualities help us forge from adversity a life of Quality. So, let’s take a look:
1) Intellectual Curiosity
The day you stop learning is the day your brain starts dying. So nourish and foster intellectual curiosity.
Curiosity is the quality that keeps our minds sharp and active. It keeps us questing forward and learning new things. If we are to thrive, we dare not become complacent. Strive to cultivate an attitude of life-long learning.
Curiosity goes hand in glove with a collector mentality. There is a symbiotic relationship between these two concepts. Curiosity drives us to discover new things; a collector mentality helps us categorize, sort, and share these things. The collector mentality gives focus and direction for our curiosity; curiosity continually refreshes and renews our collection.
In a way, curiosity is the quality that propels us forward in the other qualities that contribute to thriving.
2) Physical Capacity
Our bodies are so much more than our outward appearance. Our bodies are complex systems designed to foster energy, strength, and focus so we can pursue our calling.
Rather than fixating our attention on weight loss or getting washboard abs, develop health practices that cultivate maximum energy and capacity. Exercise is one of these practices, of course, but there are others that are equally important: nutrition, sleep, energy management, etc.
Note that curiosity plays a part here. It is curiosity that drives us to continually learn about how best to care for our bodies at different stages of life.
3) Emotional Competency
We will either manage our emotions or they will manage us. If we’re to thrive, we must commit to the lifelong practice of growing in Emotional Competency. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman gives us some helpful categories to think about this:
Self-Awareness: How accurately do you know your inner world of emotions and feelings? How do you receive and respond to feedback that tells you how you come across to others?
Self-Management: Having feelings is one thing; what we do with our feelings is a very different matter. How well do you control your emotions?
Social Awareness: Can you accurately read the emotions of others? How sensitive are you to your impact on others and what they are experiencing?
Relationship Management: Are you able to manage your behaviors in such a way as to build the relationships you want?
4) Spiritual Centrality
If curiosity propels us forward, then spirituality provides the roadmap for direction. Ultimately, everything is spiritual: our intellectual pursuits, our relationships, our vocations, our hobbies – everything. Spirituality is not a separate compartment of life; it is the infrastructure that undergirds reality.
Spirituality is what connects us to the Living God and to the rest of creation. For a deeper dive, take a look at this earlier post.
That’s my take – what about you? What qualities do you think are necessary to move from surviving to thriving?
I hope this has been helpful. If so, please share with your friends. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter – you’ll get a regular dose of inspiration and encouragement in your inbox.