From Surviving to Thriving: Tips to Thrive in the Face of Adversity

Last Update on June 2, 2023 : Published on June 4, 2023

When I was crumbling under the woes of my mental health struggles, I asked myself this question, “Am I living or merely surviving? The reply I got wasn’t very satisfactory as I realized I was barely surviving under the weight of my struggles.

As I began healing, I realized there’s more to life than just breathing, eating, working, sleeping, and socializing. Life is so much more, and yet we seem to taste only a speck of it. It took me years to realize that there was a difference between surviving and thriving aka living.

To survive meant, to continue to live or exist despite hardships, but to thrive meant, to prosper; flourish. I understand that while we’re inherently aware of the difference between surviving and thriving, we still often interchangeably use these terms. And it’s no fault of ours, really!

As we continue to face hardships and struggles, we’ve forgotten that there’s a fine line between existing and flourishing. Growth in the face of adversity seems such a ludicrous idea that the mere suggestion of it is enough to make us laugh out loud. At least, it did for me some years ago.

What we’re exploring in this blog is a rehashing of the meaning of surviving vs. thriving and learning how we can shift from a surviving to a thriving mindset in the face of adversity.

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

surviving vs thriving-min

To survive means you exist despite what hardships you face but to thrive means that you grow despite the hardships you face. There are times in our lives when we need to power through the survival stage to reach the thriving stage. When that happens, many people prosper and work through their challenges to come out the end a winner.

Yet, some find themselves constantly challenged and stressed. They don’t thrive because they can’t grow. Again, no fault of their own. Living in constant survival mode means that they are merely going through the motions of life and forgoing the enjoyment they should get from truly living their lives.

If you’re in survival mode, then here are some common traits you need to watch out for

  • You choose the path of least resistance
  • You put little to no effort into your everyday life
  • You feel a lack of mental or physical abundance
  • You find yourself blaming others for your situation
  • You fear failing

These are just some of the common indications that you’re surviving but not thriving. One of the important aspects of this surviving vs. thriving debate is our mental health as well. If you’re struggling with your day-to-day life such as trouble getting out of bed, eating, or even bathing then this could mean you’re mentally struggling.

Despite your hardships and struggles, you get up, get ready, and go to work because you know (at the back of your mind) that you have bills to pay. You may have a good life too, but because of your mental struggles, you’re constantly fatigued. This can indicate that you’re merely surviving but not thriving as you’re meant to.

Now, to thrive!

To thrive means to take control of your life instead of the opposite. In the same instance as above, while you’re struggling with mental struggles, you choose to seek help and reach out for support. This is taking one step to break the cycle of survival. To thrive is to take charge of your hardships and head toward a life you deserve to enjoy and live.

When you’re thriving in life, you see yourself being guided through these emotions and traits;

  • Optimism
  • Enjoyment
  • Learning
  • Motivation
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility

These are the ingredients that will take you further in life rather than halting you at survival stage.

 “To survive means you’re breathing, but to thrive means that you’re living and enjoying the life you’ve been gifted.”

How to Shift From Surviving to Thriving Mindset?

5 Tips to get out of survival mode

The answer to this question is quite broad, but I have some ways that you can try to shift your mindset from merely surviving to truly thriving;

1. Identify What’s Holding You Back

Take a few minutes to see and identify what’s holding you back from flourishing. Is it something you can put into words? If yes, then write it down so you have a clear understanding of what needs to change. Create a checklist if you can and slowly work through changing what’s causing you to hold back from thriving.

2. Check In With Yourself

How is your self-talk? How well do you do things? Are you someone who talks down on yourself? What’s your inner monologue like? Answering these questions is important as they’ll help you understand how your self-relationship and how you can improve it. Working on your self-relationship is important and you can try seeking a professional’s help to get started on that.

3. Work on Building Resilience

Some people are resilient when they face adversity and some fall back in the same situation. To thrive, you need to work on your resilience so that you don’t give up or back down in the face of your challenges and struggles.

You can start by working on your mental health, creating healthier friendships, embracing the changes in your life, focusing on celebrating small wins, and taking care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit.

4. Slow Down Your Life

While this may sound a bit clichéd, it is important to note that slowing down your life can be detrimental to your success in thriving. Savor the moments and experiences you come across.

You can start small by doing small things such as eating mindfully, walking mindfully, taking coffee breaks every evening, listening to music (more like listening to the lyrics more closely), and more.

5. Write About Your Experiences

Another way you can shift from surviving to a thriving mindset is by writing about your experiences. Journaling is a great way to look inside and see what’s happening that needs to change. Write when you wake up in the morning, before you begin work, or before you go to bed.

You can try expressive writing or gratitude writing, anything that can help you feel motivated and inspired to keep growing, learning, and flourishing.

From The Writer’s Desk…

To survive is to continue or exist, but to thrive is to grow, learn, and flourish. Shifting your mind from survival mode to thriving mode can be challenging, as it requires time and patience to learn to see hardships as opportunities instead of mistakes and setbacks. Taking one step at a time can help you figure out what’s holding you back and how you can learn to see things as learning.

What you take life as is a struggle, but when you find peace within yourself, then you can begin thriving and leave the idea of mere survival behind. If you require additional help and guidance, then you can reach out to a mental health professional.

I hope this blog helped you understand the difference between surviving vs. thriving and how to shift from a surviving to a thriving mindset for living your best life. For more, you can write to us at or leave me a message on Calm Sage’s social media page.

 Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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