Thrive with Michelle Winter

Thriving, Not Surviving

Thriving instead of surviving. What does it actually mean to psychologically thrive?

It was great to see everyone who participated online in the Mental health awareness week, last week.  The more we can talk about mental health, the more informed society becomes, the more proactive people will be.  And proactive measures for all, are the way forward.

The big campaign focussed on ‘thriving not surviving.’  Whilst the advice about adopting the right self-care and lifestyle are important, I just want to look at what it actually means to psychologically thrive in life.  If you are someone who life happens to-surviving, rather than living the life you totally want-thriving, just getting-by can be such a chore when the going gets tough.

A good example of a thriver is Jessica Cox.  Born without arms, Jessica initially felt powerless and frustrated that she couldn’t do all of the things other children could do.  But Jessica was able to make the transition to becoming a thriver.  She learned to do all that she wanted to do and more, such as flying a plane, playing the piano and driving a car, all with her feet.   She has stated that, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.”  (Swindoll, 2001.)

Survivors tend to think of it more as, “Life is 90% what happens to you and 10% of how you respond to it.”  But imagine if this were the case.  People would put little effort into life and developing what they wanted, believing they had little influence to make any changes.  If you feel you have little control over life, every new day can bring with it a new battle.  Slowly and surely, your mood will reduce and you’re likely to create a lot of anxiety and stress.  If we expose ourselves to this pattern regularly, causing the constant reactivation of the fight or flight response, we risk burnout.  Varela (1990), described the immune system as the body’s brain.  Meaning the brain, the emotions and the immune system, all communicate in numerous ways.  So how we think, react and behave really does have an impact upon our health!

In my job, teaching people to thrive via our programme, is such a pleasure.  Clients leave knowing just how to prevent future burnout in whichever way it originally manifested for them, whether mentally, physically or both.  The skills to thrive can be taught to just about anyone and we work with most ages.

Here’s just what it means to thrive.

  • Thrivers’ have a positive outlook on life and a ‘can do’ attitude.
  • They believe successes and failures are largely down to themselves, so they put in lots of effort to achieve the goals they want to.
  • They believe they can strongly influence their physical and mental health.
  • They don’t tend to have strong external beliefs, such as spiritual, magical or paranormal.
  • Any religious beliefs tend to inspire them by giving them internal skills and strength, as opposed to waiting for a sign about their lives.
  • They have faith in their own views and tend to weigh up evidence for themselves, before coming to an informed decision.
  • They have good coping skills, meaning they can cope and bounce-back with life’s setbacks.
  • They are able to use resilience to move on and not dwell on negative experiences and emotions.
  • They see potential problems and threats as a challenge in which they can learn and grow.
  • They are able to generally manage stress, remaining calm and relaxed when faced with potentially trying situations.

(Kelly, 2010).

So in a nutshell to thrive in life, is to use your own skills and internal resources to achieve the life you want.  Several studies have highlighted the importance of internalised locus of control in relation to depression for example.  Burger (1984), found that those who believed in external resources reported higher levels of depression.  Mirowsky and Ross (1990), determined that those who felt they had no control over good or bad outcomes or both in their lives, were more likely to be depressed.  Other studies findings reflect better health outcomes for internalised thinkers, (Abrahamsson et al., 2002), (Edwards et al., 2007), (Walters and Charles, 1997), and (Seaman and Lewis, 1995) to name just a few.

At Thrive we believe teaching clients the skills to become internal, is the most fundamental psychological skill you can learn.  Its so powerful, it teaches clients that rather than waiting for symptoms to occur (fires), and applying an intervention (fire-extinguisher), they learn how to avoid creating fires in the first place.  Here lies the seed with which to flourish in life and thrive.

If you are interested in learning more about The Thrive Programme, you can contact myself or another thrive consultant

Or why not buy the book and read and learn about all of the skills yourself?




Swindoll, C,R.  (2001).  Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrated Quotes.  Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Dallas.

Varela, F. (1990).  Immune system as the body’s brain:  Third mind and life meeting.  Dharamsala, India.

Kelly, R. (2010).  Thrive.  Rob Kelly Publishing.  Cambridge.

Burger, J.M (1984).  Desire for control, locus of control and depression.  Journal of Personality, 52(1) 71-89.

Mirowsky, J and Ross, C.E. (1990).  Control or defense?  Depression and sense of power over good and bad outcomes.  Journal of Health and Social behaviour, 31 (1) 71-86.

Abrahamsson, K.H, Berggren, U, Hallberg, L, and Carlsson, S,G (2002).  Dental phobic patients view of dental anxiety and experiences in dental care: a qualitative study.  Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science.  16 188-196.

Edwards, C.R, Thompson, A.R, and Blair, A. (2007).  An ‘overwhelming illness’:  Women’s experiences of learning to live with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.  Journal of health Psychology.  12 203-214.

Walters, V and Charles, N.  (1997).  I just cope from day to day: unpredictability and anxiety in the lives of women.  Social Science and Medicine.  45 (11) 1729-1739.

Seaman, M and Lewis, S.  (1995).  Powerlessness, health and mortality: a longitudinal study of older men and mature women.  Social science and Medicine.  41 (4) 517-525.



Thrive with Michelle

28 Forth Street, Edinburgh EH1 3LH

The Thrive Programme with Michelle Winter serving Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.

Within easy reach of
Musselburgh, Haddington, Tranent, Cockenzie, Longniddry, Gullane,
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East Calder, West Calder, Livingston, Broxburn, Newbridge and Kirkliston.

Thrive with Michelle

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7-9 Eccleston Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9LX

The Thrive Programme with Michelle Winter serving Central London.

Within easy reach of
Victoria, Westminster, Chelsea, South Kensington, North Kensington, South Kensington, West Kensington, Knightsbridge, Marylebone, Paddington, Notting Hill,  St Giles, Shepherds Bush, Ladbroke Grove, Kensington & Chelsea, Earls Court, Fulham  and Hammersmith.



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