What’s Your “Thrive”?
What does a thriving life look like to you? Does it make you think about good fitness and nutrition? Maybe lots of success in your work and educational projects? Landing scholarships, getting top grades, and already saving for your retirement funds in savvy long-term accounts?
Thriving in life means having a clear idea of God’s purpose in your life for the time being, knowing your gifts, and going toward something more important than just temporary popularity or financial gain.
There are many ways to thrive in life, and many of us tend to veer toward the traditional models of what success and growth look like to the world. We look at how well we can follow predetermined paths through high school and into college and beyond in the workforce. We gauge whether we’re thriving or not by how well we’re playing in sports or perhaps even by how many followers we have on social media.
Other Ways to Thrive
What if you aren’t meeting other people’s expectations of thriving in life, though? Maybe you decided to not attend college right away, or at all. What if you aren’t taking the career path others are pushing you toward? Or maybe life is a struggle in class, and it’s hard to just get those passing grades and deal with daily challenges with family and friends.
Rather than get too caught up in test results and grades to define your self worth and value in the world, it’s important to look beyond the status symbols the world wants you to feel should be your priorities. Here are four big ways you can still thrive in high school (and beyond) even if you aren’t following the steps others think you should take
Explore Your Passions (Even the Small Ones)
What’s that extracurricular activity or hobby that you’ve always wanted to give more time to, even though others might think it’s weird or doesn’t translate exactly into something profitable or productive? Give yourself the breathing room to try new things, do fun activities just for the sake of it, and have new experiences that can open up different ways of seeing and thinking about the world. You don’t have to defend your interests. Just learn to enjoy them.
Keep a Long-Term Vision
What seems important today may mean absolutely nothing tomorrow or a week or month later. Stressing out over short term results or consequences is often hugely counter-productive. Didn’t make a certain team or squad? Didn’t get the scores you wanted? Try to remember that many more opportunities are already coming your way. Don’t let the momentary discouragement drag you down into emotional despair that keeps you from appreciating the many blessings that remain in your life. Look for the small things to be thankful for as well as keeping the eternal perspective of your faith--what really matters to God instead of people? That question alone can be incredibly important to keep asking yourself no matter when or where.
Invest in Your Health
A healthy body and mind are critical to a thriving life. If you’re struggling with constant physical ailment and injuries because you’re pushing yourself too hard, over-stressing, not eating well, not sleeping, and other problems, it’s going to bleed out into every other area of your life. Remember that God created the body you have and it’s something that deserves to be taken care of. Take the time to both exercise and relax. Eat with proper nutrition in mind and don’t overdo the junk (all things in moderation!). The more you establish a baseline of a healthy lifestyle right now, the more it’s going to carry you through tough times in the future. You’ll be overall stronger, better able to handle stressful situations without breaking down, and won’t get sick as often thanks to a bolstered immune system. But it takes daily practice and healthy habits to get there.
Engage in Positive Relationships
The people you surround yourself with go a long way toward helping you feel like you’re thriving vs. barely surviving. Are you friends with positive, encouraging people? Or does everyone nag you and insult you at every opportunity? Do you engage with friends and peers who support your dreams and respect your limits? Or are you constantly warding off the naysayers and those who just want to drain your energy and time for their own gain? Take careful stock of your associates and weed out those who are a negative influence, while being wise about who you become close friends with as you move beyond high school and into college.
In the end, one of the best ways to truly thrive is by being true to yourself. Only you can define success in your life--it’s no one else’s but yours! Being true to your passions and your dreams, investing in your growth and nurturing the healthy sides of your mind, body, and soul, all of these are up to you. They’re not always the easiest choices or the most fun ones, but they are powerful steps to giving you the thriving life you deserve.