When Is It Okay for You to Thrive?

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
–Seth Godin

Did anyone ever tell you college will be the best time of your life? For me it was, in fact, a truly remarkable time. I absolutely loved school, especially my physiology-related classes. I loved going to class, studying, taking tests, writing papers, all of it. I also enjoyed layer upon layer of amazing community and friendship. I had ample time to do everything I wanted to do. I worked out with friends often. I ate meals with friends daily. I studied with classmates all the time. (I even won, with my friend Matt, our school’s annual horseshoe tournament. Now I’m just bragging, and rubbing it in to all my classmates who’ll read this article and, um, didn’t win the way Matt and I gloriously did that day.) Writing about this time brings a big smile to my face.

What makes me frown like a champion, however, is the thought that they were right! Was college truly the best time of my life, of anyone’s life? Is it all downhill after that? Or is it possible to flourish that way throughout life, or at other times anyway?

Society offers one answer: Retirement. When you retire, you’ll have time to do what you love, to travel, to spend time with your family, to really take care of yourself. Retirement is a construct created by the masses for the masses to keep people from completely giving up on life when they’re far from thriving and wondering, “Is this it?” Instead of really looking at themselves and their lives, and considering how they could really live, many people comfort themselves with the fantasy of Retirement. They accept their lot and use the analgesic of dreaming of playing golf, traveling to Europe, or opening up a cute bed and breakfast (many years into the future, of course) to ease their pain. All the while, they muck and mire away, putting their better days down the road, far down the road.

Retirement is just one costume Someday wears; there are others. Take Heaven. Many people believe the life of their dreams awaits them after they die. I’m a “disciplined” person in many ways and land on the strong side of the bell curve of delayed-gratification skills, but heaven seems like too far off of a reward, even for me. Then there’s Vacation. Vacation is micro-heaven—less singing angels, more fruity drinks. It’s a potent pacifier. These false gods can be very powerful, but they’re not good friends. They’re enablers that suggest we forgo thriving, and opt instead to expect mediocrity, or worse, from life and from ourselves. But do we really live in a world where college, vacation, retirement, and heaven are what we live for? Is the rest just passing time?

I don’t buy it and I don’t want you to either. I offer up a very important proposition for you to consider:

Would you like to really live now?

Photo 133--Sunset

Take a moment, as long as you like, and reflect on this possibility. Imagine living with great vitality and fitness. Imaging living with fulfilling work and fulfilling relationships as part of the day-to-day fabric of your life. Imagine loving your life. Imaging feeling amazing. Now. Not in the future, because as Dave Mathews Band wisely sings to us in their aptly named song Cry Freedom:

“The future is no place to place your better days.”

What would it be like for you to thrive now? What can you do today to make this your reality?




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