Creatively Thriving Over Merely Surviving

“I run. I read. I work. When I do these things I’m not smiling or beaming with joy. I’m not happy. In truth, when I do these things I’m often suffering. But I do them because I find them meaningful. I find them compelling. I do these things because I want to be tormented and challenged and interested. I want to build things then break them. I want to be busy and beautiful and brimming with ten thousand moving parts. I want to hurt, so that I can heal. I’m not unhappy. I’m just busy. I’m interested. And that’s okay.” ~ The Oatmeal

Don’t just survive, invent how to thrive. Risky thriving is more vital than secure survival. In the long run, uncertain adventure is healthier than safe contentment. Even happiness can be a hang-up if we’re using it as an excuse to stagnate and merely survive.

The three R’s – resistance, resilience, and reinvention – can help us to creatively thrive rather than merely survive. Resistance is about the initial leap of courage. Resilience is about courageously gaining more courage. Reinvention is about having the courage to transform. All three require courage. Let’s break it down…

This article, covers the following topics :


“To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately, 2. Do it flamboyantly, 3. No exceptions.” ~ William James

We all have a choice: remain stuck in the same old patterns, or unstick ourselves and create new patterns. Day one, or one day? Seize the day or be seized by the day? As Bob Dylan said, “Anybody not busy being born is busy dying.”

This is why resistance is so important. We must resist the urge to be lazy. We must resist contentment and the propensity to become too comfortable in our comfort zones. We must resist the slow death that comes from being caught in unhealthy, outdated patterns, so that we’re able to embrace the rebirth of creating new patterns.

It’s not merely rebellion for rebellion’s sake. It’s rebellion for health’s sake. For the sake of flourishing. Upheaval is vital. The apple cart must be upset from time to time so that the apples don’t rot. So that passion isn’t smothered by apathy. So that the call to adventure isn’t muffled by the all too comforting coo of complacency.


“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood.” ~ Margaret Atwood

Flexible steadfastness is the key to adaptability. Steadfastness alone won’t work, because then we’re more likely to get stuck in our faith or caught up in one-dimensional devotion. We’re more likely to trick ourselves into thinking that the middle of our story (or even the beginning) is the end of our story.

Flexible steadfastness, on the other hand, is the epitome of resilience. It allows our story to unfold. It’s flexible and purposeful while not being too clingy or attached to a particular chapter or outcome. It’s a proactive flow state, a robust resoluteness that makes resilience itself the inspiration for life’s journey.

Inspiration comes from adaptable aspiration. We are inspired by success derived from trial and error. When our ambitions are flexible, we are less likely to fall victim to expectations. Adaptable aspiration is resilient because it is a supple and malleable progression. Mistakes are less likely to become crippling or insurmountable.

We are more likely to learn from our errors and become stronger for them. The obstacle is truly allowed to become the path.


“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” ~ Robert Browning

Reinvention is the heart of creative thriving. Resistance and resilience were necessary to break the mold and stretch the comfort zone of mere survival, but reinvention is about emptying the cup and then filling it back up again with magic elixir. It’s about manifesting the life-death-rebirth process, again and again, so that life isn’t just a boring and banal life-death process.

Reinvention is all about re-imagining the self in new ways. It’s about being interdependently creative despite the world’s attempt to keep us co-dependently stagnant. It’s about thriving rather than just surviving.

Creative thriving makes life more exciting. It makes life more livable, more adventurous and worthwhile. When we are creatively thriving, rather than merely surviving, we are more likely to live life to the fullest. We are more likely to discover self-improvement, Eudaimonia, and enlightenment.

When we are merely surviving, on the other hand, we are more likely to get stuck in an outdated or unhealthy way of doing things. We are more likely to have unreasonable expectations. We are less likely to self-improve or to grow in healthier ways because we are clinging to the safety and security of our self-preserving ego.

Reinvention is the great equalizer of creative thriving. Reinvention helps us move past our self-preserving ego and into an arena where we are able to teach it self-improvement over self-preservation and self-overcoming over self-pitying.

In the end, reinvention, along with resistance and resilience, leads to creative thriving because it gets us out of our own way. It prevents fixed thinking. It keeps us in flow. We are less likely to get stuck merely surviving life and more likely to live an examined life full of passion and adventure.

Resist the urge to get too comfortable, be resilient in stretching of your comfort zone, reinvent yourself through proactive self-overcoming, and a life well-lived will not elude you.

Image source:

Flower puncturing concrete
Resilience: flower in concrete

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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