Surviving or thriving? Na, striving.

Surviving or thriving is this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, with the Mental Health FoundationThey have found that few people are really thriving when it comes to our minds; current levels of ‘good’ mental health are very low. Too many of us are just surviving, and the MHF is looking at what we can do to change that. I was having a think about this theme, and my immediate thoughts were “well I’m sure as hell not thriving!”, but I’m also not merely surviving. Though I have done that in the past; just continuing to exist can be hard enough. Big up the survivors!

I was thinking about what it means; to survive and to thrive. Thanks, google…

Surviving = Continuing to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.

Thriving = Prospering and growing. Flourishing. Succeeding.

I think that we are all both surviving and thriving. In some areas of life surviving is enough. It’s easier to thrive in some areas than others. Say you’ve got a job that you love, you’re enjoying it, it pays well, there’s chance to progress in the company, you’re getting a lot of satisfaction from it etc. You can be thriving there but when you get home you’re bloody lonely and exhausted and eat crap food and sit by yourself all night. That’s not so thriving, but that’s also kinda realistic. Sure, I’d love to be thriving all round – wouldn’t we all!? If I ever get to 100% thriving and 0% merely surviving then I will have reached the pinnacle of human achievement, maybe, and I should get a medal. Right now, I’d settle for a medal for going out to buy milk.

Surviving and thriving are also very subjective. Despite those definitions, they will mean different things to each of us. I’m a firm believer in balance, life is not black and white, most of it exists in the grey areas. I don’t think striving and thriving are mutually exclusive. And, as much as yes, it is great that the MHF and other organisations want us to be thriving, and we should hope to thrive as much as possible, it’s okay to just be surviving. My word would be striving; which handily sounds like a nice mixture of surviving and thriving. I was clearly born to write…

Striving = Making great and tenacious efforts to achieve or obtain something.

The word strive is probably most often heard when referring to ‘striving for perfection’ but I’m perfectly happy to strive for average! I think any of us with less-than-good mental health have strived to achieve things. I mean, most things I do that are even mildly outside my comfort zone require ‘great and tenacious efforts’!! And I think that’s what counts. If you’re merely surviving; just existing, then of course you want to be thriving, but it’s OKAY to just be existing. It’s the striving that matters at that point. If you’re making efforts – they don’t have to be ‘great’ – then you’re getting somewhere. Not all of us will be able to thrive all of the time, some of us may need to just concentrate on surviving for a while. To continue to exist; to survive, requires hope that tomorrow will be better and a stubborn determination to just keep going. For me, that’s the striving I know. Perfection is overrated and unachievable and striving to thrive is good enough for me! Step 1 = strive to survive. Step 2 = strive to thrive. And everything in between.

This blog post is all just an excuse for this –