THRIVE Living by Anne Stark

anne stark

Anne Stark works as an Assistant Director of Residential Life for Purdue University. Anne is a current PhD student in Purdue University’s Technology, Leadership and Innovation program. Additionally, Anne is an avid runner who regularly completes ultra marathons, a dedicated partner, an energetic mother to a lively (nearly) 3 year old boy, and committed to overall wellness and living an intentional life. Anne takes pride in identifying and unlocking the talent in those around her.


There have been many calls to action as of late regarding the health and wellness of those working in higher education. As workers in a helping profession, it is easy for use to give, give, give and forget to take care of us. Many of us feel that if we take the needed time to take care of ourselves, we are being selfish. The truth is, if we don’t take the time to ensure we are functioning as our best selves, we are simply not able to serve others in the best way possible.

Thrive living is a concept we are working to embrace at Purdue University. The idea is to live a life that is thriving and not just surviving. The Thrive living concept comes from Dr. Marty Green, a counselor in Purdue’s Counseling and Psychological Services department. He believes that we can greatly reduce the demand for his department’s services if we can teach students to Thrive. Many of my colleagues and I believe we can better serve students and our organizations if we too can learn to Thrive.

One of the underlying messages of Thrive is vulnerability. Sigmund Freud said it best in his quote:










We also know from Brene Brown, The Price of Invulnerability.

When we adopt the Thrive living philosophy, we are likely to reduce our anxiety and depression as well as increase our happiness, health, and resilience. There is research out there that tells us that just 1 positive moment has the power to overcome 5 negative moments. There is power in positivity so let’s embrace it and start living healthier lives!

Take a moment to complete the following exercise:

  1. Write down 5-10 items you have to do. At the beginning of each item, write the words “I have to…”, “I have to…”, “I have to…”
  2. Once you have completed your list, reflect on how you feel when you read over that list.
  3. After reflecting, re-write the same list and change the word “have” to “choose”. Your list will then read “I choose to…”, “I choose to…”, “I choose to…”
  4. While reading over your re-written list, reflect on how you feel. Is there a difference between how your first and second list made you feel?

This simple exercise gives a sneak peak into the power of Thrive living.

There are six paradigm principles that offer people the opportunity to thrive and live more fulfilled lives.

  1. Be involved in activities, work, career that offers a sense of purpose. Be involved in activities, work, career that holds meaning for you. Involve yourself in relationships that are healthy and supportive.
  2. At the core, people seek and want to be valued. People seek and want to bring value.
  3. Incorporate the phrases “I choose”, “I want”, “I prefer” more frequently than “I have to”, “I must”, “I should” into your daily choices and activities. This speaks to intentional living.
  4. Identify daily what makes you grateful. This helps to keep perspective.
  5. Be connected to something that is bigger than you.
  6. Vitalize your vessel. Continue to develop your body and mind. Commit yourself to enjoyable movement and maintaining a learner’s mind.

The more we adopt Thrive living the healthier we will become.

When we are simply trying to survive our daily lives, we exhibit many or all of the following behaviors:

  • Consistent procrastination cycles
  • Distressed over expectations
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Easily distracted
  • Numbing behaviors
  • Consistent disruptive sleep habits
  • Minimal exercise
  • Isolating behaviors
  • Irritable – seek out reasons to be miserable
  • Increased anxiousness
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Negative perspective about self and others around us

When we are Thriving as opposed to surviving, we exhibit many or all of these behaviors:

  • Identify the worth of the work in front of you
  • Star with a lens of purpose and meaning
  • Understand how you want to be valued and how you want to bring value
  • Start each day with 10-15 minutes of quiet reflection regarding how you want to choose to interact with the up coming daily activities
  • Exercise daily with some form of enjoyable movement
  • Start with “I choose, want, prefer” rather than “I have to, must or should”
  • Focus on prioritizing balance for increased effectiveness
  • Identify daily what you are grateful for
  • Involved in something outside of yourself

To get started living a more Thrive-based life, take a moment each morning to ask yourself 5 simple questions.

  1. What purposes do I find in the activities that I will be involved with today?
  2. How do I want to bring value today?
  3. Regarding my activities and interactions, what do I want to choose to do today?
  4. What I am grateful for today?
  5. At the end of the day ask yourself; In what ways did I make the most of the opportunities that I encountered today?

In addition to the 5 daily questions, you can improve your resiliency by following this daily check-list:

  • Did something today that was fun
  • Used “I feel” rather than “I am” regarding negative self-statements
  • Accepted any positive compliments/comments with “Thank you”
  • Carved out 1 hour to do something I enjoy
  •  Did a random or intentional act of kindness for someone today
  • Vocalized one positive thing about myself today

Adopting a Thrive based approach to daily living is a process. It cannot be accomplished over night and take great intentionality. Once you get the hang of it, there will still be days when you are more surviving than Thriving and that’s ok. Be forgiving of yourself and attempt to be closer to Thriving the following day.

If you need a little more research on the idea, check out what Shawn Achor has to say when he shares The Happy Secret to Better Work (click on previous words for video link).

In addition to Thrive principles we need to physically take care of our bodies. We need nutrition, sleep and exercise to be our best selves and handle stress and yet, more often than not, those are among the first to go when we get stressed. Lets all commit to living more intentional, authentic, Thriving lives!


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