Ollin Morales writes the blog {Courage 2 Create} which regularly includes posts about writing, creativity, spirituality, and “good news.”  In honor of his commitment to living his dream at the highest level and seeing the beauty in the everyday, we asked Ollin to be the first to fill out the Thrivival Questionnaire.

What does “thriving” mean to you?

Thriving means living at your highest potential, at all times, in all circumstances. You treat yourself like a whole person. You address every aspect of you: your body, your mind, your spirit, your emotions, your romantic side, your need for play. You live life knowing that if one of these aspects is not nurtured you are off balance, and you’re not thriving–you’re just getting by.

What do you do on a regular basis in an effort to thrive?
I have a pretty involved routine. I jog every day. I makes sure I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and avoid foods that my body responds to in a negative way–foods that make me feel sluggish, heavy, and tired. After all you are what you eat. I remind myself about that every time I’m about to take a bite out of something. I ask myself: “Is this going to make me feel refreshed, healthy, strong, confident and good about myself?” If it does I eat it. If it doesn’t I don’t.

I meditate daily. I do a relaxation exercise that helps me get back in touch with my breath, and then a 30 min body scan that helps me get back in touch with my body. I always feel invigorated after every meditation. I also keep a journal. I write 3 pages at least every morning and I have several affirmations that I use to help me think positively. This helps with my mental health. Within this journal I also make a list of what I am grateful for. About 10 items long, and I try to keep filling it with new things every time. This practice always reminds me of how blessed I am. I see a counselor who is teaching me how to better understand and deal with my emotions. Healing old emotional wounds is such an important part of the process towards peace of mind.
I love going on hikes and try to visit nature often. This is part of my spiritual practice. I don’t have a specific religion I belong to, but I believe communing with nature is a big part of my spirituality.

So as you can see, I try to hit upon ever aspect of my whole person on a daily basis.

In what ways have you gone from survival mode to thrivival mode?
Recently on my blog, I talked about “The Kid.” By this I meant the little kid we all have inside us, that for some reason we have all put away ever since we grew up and became “adults.” But the truth of the matter is, it was when we were kids that we were the most good at thriving. We were present, we were open, we were curious, we were highly imaginative. We knew how to laugh and have fun and not be insecure about it. Somehow “fun” has become like a dirty word these days. You have to be busy, or working, or “swamped.” You’re expected to do more with less time. That isn’t thriving, that’s being a slave to work. We all need to learn from “The Kid” in all of us and learn how to be more present and not take life so seriously. This was a recent shift for me. I’ve shifted from taking life really seriously, to finding a random leaf on the ground and going: “Ooh that’s cool!” or treating myself to a double scoop Ice Cream because I felt like it. “The Kid” in me has been told “No” so many times over the years, that I thought it was about time I started saying “Yes” to him on a frequent basis.

What are some things that get in the way of your efforts to thrive?

The biggest problem is the people around us. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that you can’t force others around you into thriving–the only life you can control is your own. For instance, I can manage my life and make sure that I meditate, exercise, eat right, etc so that I feel good and excited about life. But if someone has not been doing the same, chances are they can come around and with their negativity might unintentionally harm your efforts at trying to keep a positive worldview. It is a challenge when there are so many people around you, and you are trying to go forward and thrive, but they are complacent with just surviving, or they are moving in the opposite direction of you. Then it becomes an uphill battle every day and you ask yourself: “Is so and so going to bring me down today? How do I recover from so and so’s negativity? How can I progress, when so and so is trying to push me back into my old ways?”

These are questions I don’t have an answer to. I try my best to just focus on myself, because my behavior is all I can control.

If you feel low, how do you boost your level of thriving?
A jog always does the trick for me. Then I usually follow it with a nice healthy vegetable or fruit smoothie.

I’m working on this idea that life is all about the balance between the inner and the outer. If my mind or body is having trouble with some issue, an “internal” issue, I try to solve it with bringing something from the outside that might make me feel better. I can control my body and what I eat, so I exercise and feed it well, and my mind might respond more positively. The “inner” issue I had might be solved more easily. Conversely, if there is a problem in the outside world that I cannot control, and it is bothering me, then I go inside my mind and see if I can’t see the problem in a different light. Usually I can find some silver lining in the outside problem that is bothering me. I use the “inner” to transform the outer.

Another way I boost myself is by writing about life. I am fortunate that I am a writer and I have a blog with very supportive readers. Even if I don’t have a solution to a problem, I’ll write out my worries in a post, and my readers generally come back with insight that I never imagined, or at least some words of understanding that make me feel a whole lot better!