Thriving versus Coping


This year was filled with many valuable lessons, but none had a greater impact on my thinking than a concept called thriving versus coping. I actually heard about this concept a couple of years ago, but this year it seemed to be a common thread across most of the content I consumed.

There are quite a few ways I can describe thriving versus coping. It’s the difference between actively seeking out happiness and just trying to avoid pain. It’s the difference between really living and merely surviving. It’s progression versus regression. It’s living in abundance instead of scarcity.

The Cost of Coping

I think coping can be accurately summed up by the phrase, “just getting by.” And the more I consider this idea, the more obvious it is that I often live with a coping mindset. This mindset manifests in a variety of ways:

  • A scarcity mentality
  • Avoiding failure (“prevention focus”)
  • Living unconsciously
  • Letting my circumstances dictate my emotional state
  • Expecting people and situations to make me happy
  • Taking value
  • Waiting for inspiration to take action
  • Stagnation and regression

All of these behaviors/habits result in my viewing life as something to be endured, not enjoyed.

Choosing to Thrive

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary to thrive is:

  1. To grow vigorously
  2. To gain in wealth or possessions
  3. To progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

While all of these definitions are accurate, the one I resonate with most is “to grow vigorously.”

When I’m coping in life, growth is rarely a priority, even if I’m working towards an external goal. Instead, I’m focused on avoiding negative experiences. I would rather stay nice and comfortable than go through the inevitable pain that comes with growth. I liken it to treading water in the ocean; I may not be drowning, but I’m definitely not getting any closer to the shore.

Thriving, as I see it, is the complete opposite of coping. It means:

  • An abundance mentality
  • Pursuing success (“promotion focus”)
  • Being present to the moment
  • Taking full responsibility for my emotional state
  • Cultivating my own happiness
  • Giving value
  • Taking right action, even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Constant growth and progression

One of my key intentions for 2017 is finding ways to shift from coping to thriving. In the past couple of months, I’ve already started using this concept as a lens through which to evaluate my life. Now it’s time to make some concrete changes.





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