Emily Koski, Shepherd Song Director
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~Maya Angelou
Recently, I came to the realization that I’ve been operating in what I would call “survival mode” for a long time, like three years or maybe more. For two of those years, we literally wrote “survive” on our list of annual Koski family goals. At first, it was kind of a joke as we were figuring out how to go from a family of two adults and a sweet little one-year-old to a family of four, complete with a new baby and a, now sassy, two-year-old.
But over the past several months, I’ve noticed that my survival mindset has taken a larger hold than I’d ever intended. Certainly, we have lots of family adventures, fun and laughs, but I’ve often found myself caught in this inner monologue loop of “how will I make it through the day?” “I can’t wait to be done with this project/life stage/etc.,” or “Poor me” about this or that. Sure, sometimes it’s ok, or even necessary, to go into survival mode for a bit, but this funk has gone on long enough, and I’m ready to turn my “survive” into “thrive.”
To get started, I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of thriving versus merely surviving and I’ve started identifying people in my life or even on TV who I see as real “thrivers.” I’m still in the early stages of really figuring out what this means for me, but here are a few commonalities I’ve noticed in my research:
Thrivers don’t complain, they embrace: Whether or not I say it out loud, it always seems like my “survival self” is complaining about something. A current example is that I hate to be hot, so you can imagine that summer isn’t my favorite season weather-wise. Usually, if the forecast says 100 degrees and humid, my default thought is “how long will this nasty weather last and how can I get through till it’s over?” But I’ve noticed that a thriver would instead say something like “Wow it’s hot! What can we do to enjoy it?” A thriver would embrace the day, regardless of the circumstances.
Thrivers serve joyfully: My “survival self” does a lot for my family - meal prep, cleaning, laundry, outings with the kids, paying the bills... - but I’m realizing now that it’s all with an air of exhaustion and even some resentment. That attitude isn't any fun, nor does having a cranky, worn down mom help us thrive as a family. To become more of a thriver, rather than keeping score or thinking about “poor me having to do all this stuff,” I’ve started refocusing my energy on serving with a joyful heart. It makes the work I do feel less like a burden and more like a gift I’m happy to give my family.
Thrivers live in the moment: I’m usually terrible at this, but I’ve had some good practice lately. Whether it’s because I’m on maternity leave so I don’t have a strict schedule to follow or because I’m too tired to worry about anything very far into the future, it feels great to enjoy the moment. Whereas my “survival self” would normally Google “how long till babies sleep through the night?” I’m just enjoying every moment I get to spend with this baby – whether she’s awake for hours or sleeping soundly. Turns out it takes a lot of (wasted) time and energy to live anxiously in the future. I hope I can build this in as a new “thriver” habit that will kick in when we’re back at work and school in the fall!
I do know that converting to this mindset will be a journey, but I’m more than ready to put survival mode behind me and embrace a future filled with “thrive.”