To thrive or not to thrive?

In a world that seems to move from crisis to crisis how does one stay on track, how does one remain hopeful, upbeat and purposeful? In these circumstances is it realistic to seek to thrive?

What gets you up in the mornings? What energises and motivates you to face another day amid the crises happening in your business, your city, your country, the world, your life? There is a crisis on every corner. A drama that plays out on the periphery of our awareness on most days. It bawls loudly for our attention and waits, one leg jutted out, to trip us up. When that happens we fall flat on our faces in the mud of general unpleasantness, mountainous concerns about wars, natural disasters, corruption, and other people's business. It feels never ending.

How do you stay on track? How do you remain hopeful, upbeat and purposeful? It is an important question because the alternative is dark and dense and going nowhere. A bit like treading water in a whirlpool slowly sucking you down, down, down. We cannot live like that. Actually we can but is it useful? Is it resourceful? Is it even living?


Thriving or surviving?

To be satisfied with merely surviving day to day is a real waste of human potential. It is true that about 16% of the world’s population do just survive. They are the homeless, the lost, the runaways and the refugees. Survival is their life.

We are not talking about that sector of the population, we are talking about you, about us as a collective. Are you thriving or surviving? Or somewhere in between?

What does it mean to thrive? The dictionary definition of thriving is to grow or develop well or vigorously, i.e. with physical strength, effort, or energy; or to prosper and flourish. To thrive and flourish are extremely attractive concepts but are they realistic expectations in the kind of world we live in? With this on her mind Chantal went in the search of answers.

“What does thriving mean to you?” she asked Matthew.

“For me it is a state of balance,” replied Matthew after some thought. “Having the elements of your life in balance and being okay and present to this balance.”

“What do you mean by being present to this balance?”

“Living consciously, and understanding that things may go awry but as long as we don’t let it tip the balance for too long we can come back to thriving.”

“It must also include rest, a form of hibernation,” added Chantal, “Not being on the go all the time, not performing at our peak consistently because that is not possible. No-one does it.”


Matthew became an uncle this past week! Here’s beautiful Ava Grace❣️

An aspirational goal

In his book Flourish, positive psychologist Martin Seligman, notes that the focus of positive psychology is well-being, and the gold standard of well-being is flourishing. The goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing. He has five elements that underpin this goal called the PERMA model. This stands for positive emotions, engagement (also interest and flow), relationships, meaning (and purpose) and accomplishment.

At 5th Place we look through the lens of five pillars of emotional fitness which are thinking, feeling, relating, nourishing and moving. There is considerable overlap between the two models of well being where thriving or flourishing is not a constant nor a fixed end point but rather an ongoing process.

In this instance thriving becomes an aspirational goal, a continuum that changes as we grow, develop, learn, accept, transition and transform. It is also relative and subjective based on a life stage, culture and world view.

Realistically, we cannot always thrive, there will always be situations or events in our lives that shake us, shock us and upset our world. A bit like what a hailstorm does to a garden. But given time, and as long as the foundation is there, the soil is rich and the clean up careful, the garden will bounce back and thrive once again.


Thriving and abundant carrots from our vegetable garden. The first cultivated carrots weren’t orange, they came in colours like purple, white, and yellow.

Five pillars of emotional fitness

A solid foundation for wellbeing is emotional fitness and to become emotionally fit we look to the five pillars:

What are our thought patterns, mindsets and beliefs? Do we ruminate, catastrophize or fantasise? How do we stretch ourselves by learning? What boundaries do we employ to avoid being inundated by the toxic negatively of media and digital overwhelm?

What are we doing to manage our emotions and deal with stress? Can we increase gratitude, optimism and hope in our daily lives? Do we feel purposeful? Do we generally feel what we do is valuable and worthwhile and gives us a sense of accomplishment? What gives us meaning?

What are we doing to move more? How are we expending the energies of anger, frustration and irritation so that we let them go? How are we keeping our typically sedentary selves going?

Are we eating and drinking consciously? Are we taking time out to replenish ourselves, get enough sleep and engage with activities that are creative and get us into a flow?

What are our relationships like? Especially our relationship with ourselves? Are we developing positive, generative relationships so important for our feelings of connection and belonging?


Our last purpose workshop for 2023 is on 24 November. Don’t miss out!

Cycle back re-evaluate

One way to remain on the path to thriving is to cycle back to these pillars on a regular basis. Re-evaluate your circumstances, check which elements are not in alignment or balance and make adjustments.

It is always in the coming back that the real change is made. Coming back, taking action and practising over and over again to form the habits that support us to be to our fullest potential. To aim to thrive, because, in the words of Mary Oliver from the last line of her poem “The Summer’s Day”:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Until next time.

Yours in feeling,
Matthew & Chantal

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About the author

5th Place

5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.

We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.

Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.

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