Survivor or Thriver? A Beauty Queen and Some Tips


Are you thriving–or just barely hanging on? This is a close-up of the logo from a woman’s retreat I attended a few months ago featuring Leslie Nease, Mrs. North Carolina 2001 and contestant on Survivor China 2007.


A fitness trainer, she has written a book on physical, emotional and spiritual fitness called Body Builders. Leslie has had to overcome many obstacles in her life journey, but she shares these with touches of humor. Her new book Wholehearted: Living the Life You Were Created to Live (2013) describes how God transformed her from the inside out with an experience she refers to as a heart transplant. Her goal: to live every day with purpose and passion. To thrive, not just survive.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

II Corinthians 4:16

The desire to thrive, not just survive, is described in psychological terms as well. The book Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, M. D. contains a description of the survivor personality traits. According to psychologist Al Siebert, there are observable indicators of self-motivated growth:

1. A sense of aimless playfulness for its own sake, like that of a happy child.

2. A child’s innocent curiosity.

3. The ability to become so deeply absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time, external events, and all your worries . . . .

4. An observant, non-judgment style.

5. Willingness to look foolish, make mistakes, and laugh at yourself.

6. An active imagination, daydreams, mental play . . . .

7. Empathy for other people, including opponents.

8. Recognition of . . . intuition as a valid source of information.

9. Good timing when speaking or taking original action.

10. The ability to see early clues about future developments and take appropriate action.

11. Keeping a positive outlook in adversity.

12. The ability to adapt to unexpected experiences. (Plan B!)

13. The talent for converting what others consider misfortune into something useful.

14. Feeling yourself getting smarter and enjoying life more as you get older.

What can you add to the list above?

Are you a thriver? A survivor?  Share a story please.

Your comments welcome! I always reply.


18 thoughts on “Survivor or Thriver? A Beauty Queen and Some Tips

  1. I remember once my sister rolling spontaneously down a long hill when her children were enjoying doing so. Her dear husband kind of frowned. A survivor of multiple back surgeries, she did not let that stop her. Later she contracted MS — the kind you can control for many years with medication and careful limits on activity. We all went on a white water trip (not a very vigorous one, and we got hot rowing), so her biggest danger was overheating. She took frequent dips in the water to stay cool. At 65, she is careful, but still rolls down hills in her mind, I’m sure.


  2. At first, reading, I thought this might be about somebody surviving her beauty-queen past, its seamy side. What a profound list. I’m going to post it above my kitchen sink and stare at it for inspiration.


    1. I know you try to inspire others too, Shirley. Glad this list resonated so well with you. I have had this printed list for a long, long time. Today seemed just the right time to post it. Muchas gracias for the comment.


  3. This is a good list, each one speaks to me on some level. I’ve fallen I to a trap of living in survival mode prompted by recent stresses. Time to climb out and resume a thriving lifestyle!


    1. It’s easy to get off balance, Linda, as I know only too well. You are making major life transitions right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Again, thanks for reading and commenting.


  4. Thanks for the list. I am thriving more than I felt like before reading the list, so I guess I am doing better than I thought when I woke up this morning with all of my joints aching. 🙂


  5. What a wonderful list and great reminder of what’s important. My life always is at its best when I follow these guidelines.


  6. Having grown up plain, with ancestors who were nourished by Scripture, I am especially warmed by the Corinthians quote, and the indicators that follow, give more heartwarming specifics. The ‘principle’ I would add to the list is: “Mutual Support,” or participating with all our Being in Community, or supporting Life while recognizing that Existence supports us. I’m borrowing some of the language in that last sentence from another body-centered approach to thriving, known as Breema. Or, as my current ‘plain’ community sings from the hymnal, and it’s Number 1 in the book: “What is this place where we are meeting? Only a house, the earth its floor, walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door. Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near.”


    1. Your suggestion is apt, and I agree. Thank you for your thoughtful response with references to the idea of “supporting Life while recognizing that Existence supports us.” I am not familiar with the concept of Breema and would like to know more. I am certain that connecting with kindred spirits in the blog world is a part of such a community where I meet “Nice,” mutually supportive people like you. Your comments always appreciated, Dolores.


  7. Sometimes a Plan B can turn into a more desirable path than Plan A. Ten years ago I thought I would spend the rest of my days working overseas. Due to unexpected circumstances, I’ve spent the past 8 years within 4 miles of home. And I feel incredibly blessed in the change. Thankfully, God redirects us when necessary.


  8. I identified with the roll down the hill. My brother and I used to do that often. Now it would hurt like crazy. When I look at this list, I see a great many of the qualities I call “embrace your blush,” especially #5 but really all of them. Thanks for posting the list. Love how you have evoked these stories.


  9. In your book BLUSH as in your life following, I see the qualities of a survivor and a thriver. The words frisky, spunky, chutzpah come to mind in describing your approach to life. Right?


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