Lindsay Davis is a passionate writer, athlete, creative artist, and health advocate. She is an inspirational blogger and a passionate intenSati leader. She is also a fighter, working at living her best life everyday no matter what. Because of her tenacity in the face of adversity, and her commitment to personal growth and courageous self expression, we invited her to fill out the Thrivival Questionnaire. Look for Lindsay in Central Park this fall leading intenSati. She’ll be seated. See, she doesn’t even let a little ankle surgery get in the way of her inspired leadership.

What does “thriving” mean to you?
If this were a game of word association, the first few that come to mind when I think about thriving are health, vivacity, and abundance! I think thriving is a state of mind rooted in a desire for excellence that leads to behaviors and performances at my best levels in any given moment. I am thriving when my recovery time from a setback, not to mention the time I spend thinking about or analyzing what happened, is less than time spent on a similar occasion in my past. For me, thriving also means living the inspired life — an existence in which I am moved and motivated to high levels of creativity, thought, love, service, devotion and passion on a daily basis.

What do you do on a regular basis in an effort to thrive?
Well, a lot of things, sometimes so many that I could end up unthriving — dethriving?! — because I’ve heaped so much onto my plate. 🙂 But, let’s assume I’m answering for an ideal, regular day. For one, I engage in passions, whether it’s getting up at 6am to write a blog post before I go into the office, taking or teaching a fitness class I love after work, eating delicious foods that nourish me or spending time with loved ones. These can be passions that are in advancement of career goals or just for fun. I also analyze or at the very least observe my thinking throughout the day and if I am stuck in a pattern that looks like it has no real effective use and is getting in the way of my feeling good or having meaningful insight, I try and let it go. I guess you can say I have something of an on guard vigilance or awareness for things that can take me down or out of my joy, health and abundance. Gratitude consciousness is also something I try to practice daily because it does wonders for me. Similarly, I surround myself with very grateful people, ones who have deep appreciation for their gifts and help me stay mindful of how much I have in myself and life to celebrate!

In what ways have you gone from survival mode to thrivival mode?
Well, for a significant period of time in my 20s (I’m 33 now) I was battling debilitating eating disordered behavior, anxiety and depression. It was all I can do to get through a day and show up for any commitments and it was just a completely depressing existence predicated on getting through or just “surviving” each day. I quit jobs, moved back to my family’s house on Long Island more than once, sabotaged opportunities to thrive in my creative work, and ruined relationships, in some cases, beyond repair but fortunately in most, just temporarily. I had given up on all my dreams and most of my responsibilities, and I was completely overwhelmed by a pursuit of happiness. I remember I had a doctor who told me I really should just try and find a husband and become a school teacher or something — that I should shoot for a life with very low stress and risk because clearly I couldn’t handle much. Now, I know plenty of people and teachers who would challenge his assumption on the stress level of working in public education, for starters, but the point I am trying to make here is that I felt he wanted me to just live a life based on surviving. I remember leaving his office on Long Island and just balling my eyes out in the car because I felt not just completely invalidated (when I told him my ambitions in the performing arts and as a writer he thought I was grandiose and over-ambitious) but because I knew I had big dreams and desires that I must pursue. I knew in my gut that even though I was only living in survival mode at the time, that eventually I would have to pull myself up to full out thriving or at least claim that as my INTENTION. It can be scary when you get to know yourself and some of the best insights I have had came after someone told me they think I should do “A” and my heart started singing the rest of the alphabet. Ultimately, it was the decision to go “confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagine” (Thoreau) that led to my having breakthroughs and successful shifts. This is a very long way of saying that I think a decision I made to say “I will thrive and not just survive” (intenSati affirmation!) was and continues to be instrumental in my recovery and pursuit of happiness.

What are some things that get in the way of your efforts to thrive?
Well, as I mentioned, I have dealt for a long time with a holy trinity of anxiety, depression and eating disordered behavior, so, learning to manage these has been essential. If don’t want to sound cliché and say ‘every day’s a struggle’ because that’s not really true anymore but honestly, between the three options, I definitely have to be on guard each and every day lest one or all of them intercept what is my very strong, healthy desire and intent to thrive. I try to get enough sleep (7 hours is what I need), exercise (6 days a week), time in nature (essential for me!), relaxation/meditation, writing (I have tons of journals and diaries) and satisfaction from relationships. Laughter is essential and my friends are all clowns. 🙂 Too much computer or iPhone time also really gets in my way so I am trying to power down early these days! The other big thing that gets in my way is an unhealthy comparison to what other people are achieving and accomplishing. It is wonderful to be inspired by others who are pursuing their goals but any kind of envy or jealousy sentiment really gets in my way of thriving so I do my best to release it at once. As my self esteem increases and I take more inspired, courageous actions on my behalf, I have much less experiences of those sentiments and for that I am grateful and, through no coincidence, thriving even more.

If you feel low, how do you boost your level of thriving?
Well, for starters, when I feel low, I don’t necessarily try to shift right away. I look at the lowness and ask myself if there’s something I’m supposed to get or learn from how I’m feeling. Do I need to go into it a little or a lot, even, can I determine what’s up and what core need(s) I should be addressing. If I glean an insight then that’s boost number 1 — I’ve just learned something — but whether it’s information or a biochemical response or just a habitual thinking pattern (or all three), when I choose it’s time to get out of it, I have a sweet toolbox. I love to get to the gym for intenSati, a yoga class or a dance class. I take myself to outdoor, open spaces like Central or Hudson River Park, or even some of the little oases in the desert (aka Midtown East) near my office, like the one or two water fountains and atriums with good light. I put on music (not while near the fountain, this is a separate uplift source) and sing or dance my heart out, get together with great friends, do a meditation, start working on a monologue in a foreign accent which usually makes me laugh a lot at myself, just jump in the shower or bath with aromatherapy bubbles, or call someone else to see how they’re doing. If it’s time for a meal, I make sure it’s really enjoyable because if I feel like shit and then eat like shit, my mood usually tanks. I boost my level of thriving by being pro-active, taking inspired steps towards my career goals, letting go of any disappointments or setbacks as quickly as possible, and doing my best to get very clear on what I feel I desire and deserve. Sometimes I also just grab a cup of coffee but I’m working on curbing that habit because as much as I enjoy being on a first named basis with the Oren’s baristas near my office, my little 5’3″ frame can’t handle too much caffeine.

Who – in your life or “in life” – do you really admire for their efforts to thrive? Why?
I definitely feel inspired by my parents and members of my family who are achieving their goals and are living lives they love and desire. My parents are exceptional examples of how not to play the victim — they are both true survivors of real adversity and I think about them for inspiration every day. My brother for experiencing such growth, the kind I can’t even believe was achieved in such a relatively short time. I admire the members of the intenSati Leader and student community and fitness/health professionals and creative arts communities who continue to inspire me every day. Actors who audition after 20 rejections in a row and the finally get the perfect part for them. Writers who go from blog to magazine article to best selling book! I certainly can go on and list so many people but honestly the ones who come to mind right now, with the exception of Madonna and Janet Jackson who will always jump on any admiration list I build because they are my favorite Rock Stars, are just all my friends, students and people that are living life in the best way they know how and with the intention to grow and live their full potential despite any obstacles that stand in the way of them and their happiness. If life were a track event, I’d say I stand in deepest admiration of not just the people who cross finish lines first, second or at all, but the ones who run the race and definitely, without a doubt, the ones who clear hurdles.

Read other responses here.