The Difference Between Thriving and Just Enduring

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Dear Jane,
What do you mean by “endurance” and what’s wrong with it? I always thought enduring was a good thing.

When I am interviewed on radio or TV, I am always asked to explain what I mean by “endurance.” I use an analogy taught to me by one of my mentors, Brandon St. John, some 25 years ago. This analogy was used by Al Gore in his amazing film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” where he offers us irrefutable evidence that global warming is real and dangerous and a hope and a plan for rescuing the planet now. The analogy goes like this: When frogs are placed in water that is too hot, they will hop out immediately. However, when frogs are placed in water that is just right and then the water is heated slowly, they will ENDURE and never jump out, no matter how hot the water gets. Our mutual point is this: When we put up with anything that is unhealthy for our spirit or our environment for too long, like the frog, we may not notice until it is too late. In Al Gore’s cartoon with the frog, the frog is rescued by awareness and action. In Enough Is Enough!, I offer so many ways to become aware and stop enduring now, not later, not after we have accumulated too much regret or poisoned our system with too much resentment. Not after we have ignored our spirit to the point that we can no longer hear its whispers.
If you pay attention to your spirit today, if you “take your leap,” you will undoubtedly help yourself, others, and possibly our planet. Here are some immediate ways to start living your extraordinary life and to set an example for others. None of them are easy. All of them require willingness, perseverance, and self-compassion:
1. Stop one self-defeating behavior just for a day and replace it with a healthy, affirming one. You don’t have to change your thoughts, just your behavior. Your mind just may catch up with you.
2. Tell someone about a goal you wish to accomplish. Ask them to support you in it, even to the point of keeping your word about it. Don’t let yourself off the hook. This is perseverance, not endurance, and it is one of the best ways to build self-esteem.
3. Ask yourself where you have not been in integrity with someone. Then make it right. Righting our wrongs is loving kindness put into action. It is humbling and keeps us from self-righteousness.
4. Acknowledge something good in yourself and then acknowledge something good in a person you are having difficulty with.
There are many more ways to get out of your prison of endurance and to make each day forward a remarkable one. Promise yourself you will make thriving your new habit. After all, we are not frogs, are we?

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