woman jumping

Why We Need To Be Flexible To Survive And Thrive

We Can Choose Our Attitude

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” — Albert Einstein

How would you describe your life right now? Are you surviving from day-to-day or thriving? I don’t intend to underscore your troubles but help you gain an insight into your current conditions. It takes courage to take an introspective look into ourselves, particularly when we don’t like what we see.

Most people never take this journey because highlighting their shortfalls threatens their self-esteem. The problem is that we stay stuck and stagnant without growing and advancing. I’m certain if you’re reading this article, you’re not that person. You’re not the person to rest on your laurels because something inside of you identifies with growth and expansion.

Even if you don’t know how to improve your life, you recognize you are not satisfied. If you are not thriving in respective areas of your life, what is the cause? Honestly, what do you believe is holding you back from achieving your potential in this area?

You might say external factors such as the economy, being dealt unforeseen circumstances, or something else. I’m not discounting these factors, but we can still choose our attitude and rise above our difficulties.

Do you agree with this? Do you feel some people are dealt an easy hand in life, while others have it tough? Be careful how you answer, because this is a belief that may impede your growth. Perhaps there’s a reason some people face more difficulties than others. They might be called to serve others through their purpose.

Life Is Not A Problem To Be Solved

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

I don’t know your particular story to comment about it, but having coached hundreds of people over the years, I have observed a theme play out in many of people’s lives. Those who excel in life come from unfortunate backgrounds. Some were abused as children; others lost loved ones when they were young. Some experience illness they recover from.

It is why I am drawn to the quote by the motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who said, “The same wind blows on us all; the winds of disaster, opportunity, and change. Therefore, it is not the blowing of the wind, but the setting of the sails that will determine our direction in life.”

There is truth that life is subject to pain, disappointment, and suffering. Some of us suffer more than others, but it is our attitude or what Jim Rohn calls the setting of the sails that determines our direction in life. It is whether we choose to bounce back from our setbacks and grow from those experiences.

As you’ve probably noticed, life is about growth and expansion, and we cannot stop this process any more than interrupting daylight break in the morning. Life weaves her wisdom of impermanence and change throughout our lives, and we can retreat into despair or accept the challenges.

Sometimes we bemoan our experience and believe we are unfairly treated. But it doesn’t change our circumstances. Feeling victimized does not change the fact that reality wins compared to our beliefs about it. Life doesn’t care whether we think it is fair. It is not a factor, because fairness is not what life is.

A better question to ask is: What am I being called to learn about this situation? Where is the growth in this challenge? Whom do I need to become to see this situation from a higher perspective? We’ve got to change our thinking and stop believing life is being imposed upon us.

Life is not happening to us as much as it is happening for us. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at begin to change.

It is the understanding; life is not a problem to be solved, but to be experienced from the level of the soul. Life is a sea of contrast where we choose how to view our difficulties. We can see them through the lens of pain and disappointment or growth and expansion.

It takes a certain mindset to adopt this way of thinking. It doesn’t happen overnight, and with enough pain and heartache, we eventually learn that life is pulling the strings and we are a tiny speck in a vast universe, constantly contracting and expanding.

A Flexible Mind Is A Thriving Mind

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

I often remind coaching clients when they are overwhelmed by their difficulties to get on Google Earth and appreciate their problems in the realm of the cosmos. It requires stepping back and recognizing life isn’t being done to us but expanding through us.

Are you getting the sense that surviving and thriving are different mindsets? If we want to move from one to the other, we must be flexible in our thinking. We need to expand our understanding of our problems and look at them through the lens of growth and opportunity.

A flexible mind is a mind open to change, which is the one thing that flows throughout life. We cannot resist change, otherwise we become stuck and victimized. Life is doing what it does — expanding and contracting.

Given we are the substance of life, we ought to allow life to flow through us instead of running away from our problems. We both know it never works out well when we run away from problems.

With this in mind, I invite you to consider the questions I asked you in the opening paragraph. Sit for 10-15 minutes and journal honest answers to the questions. Approach the exercise as though you were confiding in someone you trust. Here, that someone is your private journal.

Try to get a sense of what is holding you back from thriving. Don’t try to find a solution yet, because that will come when you are open-minded. The key is to identify the problem, and a solution will be borne out of it in due course. Ultimately, a flexible mind is a thriving mind because it is open to change, which is the essence of life.

About the author

Self-empowerment author, expert speaker and coach.

Follow Tony on Instagram or read more articles from Tony on Thought Catalog. Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.