Thriving after – a destination point – a place of going beyond – a result of reinvention … or to play on the Star Trek theme: going where you have not gone before.

Let me explain.
Life has a way of showing up in unexpected ways…circumstances show up. I sometimes call them “landmines.” We are bopping through life and wham… something happens that wasn’t much of a blip on the screen before … or even if it was, we thought we could deal with it or stop it from happening. Wrong. It happens.

How do we deal with these landmines .. these places of explosive, unexpected circumstance? AND, not just how do we deal with the initial shock, but then go way beyond where we are when they happen or where we were before. How do we experience the “after?”

Another way to ask the question: How do we go beyond SURVIVING to THRIVING.. after?

We hear the word surviving a lot and it’s a great thing…. to survive a circumstance, an event, an illness; but I suggest you want to go well beyond surviving to the place I call THRIVING …. After.

Surviving First:

While it’s a blessing to survive, it also carries an almost unspoken label of getting past a “bad” thing – e.g. surviving the holocaust, an accident, a devastating illness, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a job loss, a bankruptcy.

It implies that we were/are a “victim” of something beyond us, something awful. We receive great sympathy, as is often appreciated. I mean truly, we do feel like victims when something bad happens. We didn’t ask for nor deserve nor expect it. We don’t want these things. We cry, and question and wonder. People feel bad for us and we feel bad for ourselves.

And, … we survive – we eventually get past, e.g. get better. Our body heals (even if it’s not exactly as it was before). Our heart heals (even though we may never take the risk of opening to love again or having our heart broken again), our bank account improves (although we might then hoard needlessly as a protection.)

The bigger question is: do we THRIVE… after? What do I mean?

To THRIVE means to prosper, flourish, grow vigorously.

Do we move past and beyond? Do we have an improved, almost unimagined and better life AFTER? Do we go where we have never been before? Do we become someone we didn’t know ourself to be before? Do we THRIVE after?

Many experience these devastating circumstances, play it very safe in their cocoons, don’t take risks and live out their lives. I don’t doubt that they are appreciative and grateful for their surviving and making it through; however, they stay and they settle. And that’s fine… for them.

However, is that fine for you?

What if some of these incredible had just settled? We could have lost the gifts they gave us:
Randy Pausch (he gave us the Last Lecture and taught us to live in spite of illness)
Hellen Keller (she gave us living in spite of overwhelming handicaps)
Stephen Hawking (he gave us his brain and his scientific mind)
Viktor Frankl (he survived the holocaust to write Mans’ Search for Meaning)
Robin Roberts (she publicly fought breast cancer on television and inspired us)
Lance Armstrong (he went beyond testicular cancer to the Live Strong org.)
Robert Kiyosaki (he went through bankruptcy and failure to teach us about money)
Robert Downing, Jr. (he nearly died from drug abuse and came back to entertain us)
John Walsh (After losing his own child, he started the America’s Most Wanted)
Jean-Dominique Bauby (While totally paralyzed he wrote, The Diving Bell)

Each went way beyond the circumstances of their lives and made their lives and the world a better place. They taught us amazing things. Despite the errors of their own ways OR the inexplicable or unexpected, they moved past to MORE, greater, better. They THRIVED.

Ask – what if they just got through it? That would have been great (and in some cases they didn’t survive, they died, but in the process of going through whatever they had experienced, they still gifted us (eg. Randy Pausch).

I’ve survived a few circumstances – I’ll spare the details. I’ve had many personal losses of loved ones, a rugged childhood, my own painful divorce, many “reinventions” and relocations … and recently, a life-altering illness (that I’m still navigating).

Now hear me out – none of these have been or are easy to deal with. I’ve yelled, and screamed and questioned God along the way. But, people who know me say, “Ann, you always land on your feet (a cat analogy I love.)

You see, I learned a long time ago that my purpose in life is to inspire others – it’s what I am here to do. I’ve done it through the years, all through my work, as an educator, a manager, a psychotherapist and now as a speaker, coach and writer.

My life is THRIVING .. because for me it’s about giving to others. I’m not ready to leave this world yet. I have much still to do and gifts to leave, and more lessons to learn, I’m sure.

So how do you NOT just survive, but THRIVE …after?

1. You say to yourself – “I want things to be different.” You declare a willingness to NOT stay were you are (no matter what)
2. You go with the flow … allowing it to take you where it takes you … you go with it.
3. You share your experiences with others. (I’m an open book.) I blog my experiences
4. You imagine what “gifts” you’re getting from your experience and you share them
5. You do something, you “be” someone that helps others in similar circumstances – someone they can look to.
6. You set a structure to do something that calls you to be bigger than you know yourself to be
7. You convey a message that moves people forward.

The gift of it all …..
First, you survive the circumstances. Then, secondly, you see it as a calling to do something – more, better, whatever….. Not just for ego, but for the value of pulling people forward.

Be the example, the voice, the beacon.

Author's Bio: 

Ann Fry, MSW, is known as the "ReInvention Hotshot!" She works with individuals and with companies when they want things to be different. She helps them move forward and "reinvent" ... their life, their workplace. Ann is a professional speaker member of the National Speaker's Assn, a certified executive and life coach through the International Coach Federation, an author. She's written: Laughing Matters: The Value of Humor in the Workplace, Sixty, Sexy, Sassy and Free: A Real Woman's Story of ReInvention, AND When You Want Things to be Different: 7 1/2 Steps to Transcend the Status Quo.