Are you surviving or thriving?

Your alarm clock goes off in the wee hours of the morning and you reluctantly drag yourself out of bed, hoping you can stay on your feet long enough to get to the coffeemaker so you can be perked up by a caffeine rush. Many Americans feel themselves dragging through their day to day routine, with little extra energy or excitement to spare in the midst of burdensome jobs, raising quickly growing children, trying to keep up with the housework at home, and attempting to maintain personal relationships. Sound familiar?

While busy schedules filled with work, personal endeavors, and caring for the family are inevitable, you do have some control over how you age and progress through your life. In fact, we have more control over our health than we have been brought up to think. A common misconception nowadays is that any time we have a problem, it is up to our doctors to fix it. While they certainly are very well-qualified to help us in times of need, it is unfair (and unreasonable) to expect them to give us all of the tools we need to flourish in life. We often forget the large role that our own lifestyle choices play into our health. (And the great value in seeking out preventative and wellness care.)

There are two ways to approach the way you care (and seek care) for yourself. Rather than it being about one group being healthier than the other outwardly, it is more about how they approach caring for themselves, in times of adversity or not. The first group is very common, and often times individuals don’t realize it is what they are seeking: being non-sick. These are the “survivors”.  Rather than bettering themselves daily and nourishing their bodies through regular healthy choices, this group does what they can to stay afloat. They chase after their symptoms, putting out small fires along the way. They get distracted and don’t realize that their foundation is weakening with each small fire, needing some extra attention to be strengthened. They attribute any setbacks as extrinsic, or things outside their control that they cannot change anyways. This is not necessarily because they are lazy or don’t care, but rather because they haven’t been empowered to take control of their health. This needs to be addressed, as in 2012 half of American adults had one or more chronic health conditions, and a quarter had 2 or more.* The second group is one who is seeking health, rather than being “non-sick”.  These are the “thrivers”. They are consistently looking at where they can add healthy choices proactively into their lives, whether it be in their shopping cart or walking to a meeting or work when they have the time rather than driving. Someone or something, whether it be a personal event or observation, inspired them at some point in their life to take control of their personal well-being. Sure, they still experience occasional setbacks, but they are able to bounce back quicker and end up where they were at or better than before. They attribute their health to their intrinsic choices-things they are able to control. They see mental and emotional health benefits as well in having a greater sense of control over their lives.

So, are you surviving or thriving?

No matter what category you would put yourself into at this current point of your life, you can always start or continue working towards your own personal path of “thriving”. Find someone who can help encourage you and even work with you on their own health goals. It’s never too late to start, as in the words of Karen Lamb…..

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”

Yours in health,

Dr. Emily



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