Beyond Victimhood: Are You a Surthriver?

I first heard the term “SURTHRIVER” about a week ago when my friend Wendy Cobrda, wrote a blog post on the topic. I instantly fell in love with this new word, even before I read Wendy’s definition:

“Surthrivers” are people who take what life hands them and not only deal with the situation, but find a way to thrive — to grow stronger — because of what they have survived. Surthrivers make their mark in the world by combining a realistic, hopeful attitude with one of graciousness and wonder. Things don’t always go their way, but they play whatever hand they are given. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. Their joy is derived from simply playing the game.”

[Read Wendy’s original post here: Are you a Surthriver?]

surthriver quoteSometimes bad things happen to good people. We hear this all the time, and yeah, it just might be true – but who gets to define what is bad and what is good? What may seem like a very bad thing to some, say a superstorm of a hurricane, may not have the same effect on another. And the difference in the perception of the experience is exactly what separates the victims from the surthrivers.

Difference between a survivor and a surthriver

Notice, I didn’t say ‘survivors’. To me, this term indicates one has made it through a difficult circumstance, but it doesn’t convey whether it was with a diligent perseverance, gathering wisdom along the way – or if it was simply an act of desperate endurance. Please don’t misunderstand – surviving is always my first choice – and I have much respect for those who identify as being a ‘survivor’.

But, I, personally aspire to more.

I aspire to Surthrive.

In fact, Gloria Gaynor is singing in my head right now,

“I Will Surthrive.

As long as know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.

I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give.

And I’ll surthrive.

I will surthrive.”

I doubt I’ll ever hear the song, “I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child the same way again:

I’m a surthriver
I’m not goin’ give up
I’m not goin’ stop
I’m goin’ work harder


I’m a surtrhiver
I’m gonna make it
I will surthrive
Keep on surthrivin’

Are you a Surthriver?

Do you find when the going gets rough that you are simply enduring? Are you focused solely on getting through, just waiting for the end of the current trials? Or do you manage to thrive under less than ideal circumstances? Do you find a way to see the silver lining in every cloud, garner wisdom from every heartache, and recognize that you had a choice in your attitude all along?

Do you know what you need to surthrive?

With the recent conditions along the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy, I predict we’ll hear countless tales of Surthrivers. I look forward to these stories that exemplify the highest virtues of our humanity – compassion, selflessness, generosity, bravery, and courage.

If you’ve got examples of ‘surthrival’, I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.

With mucho a latte of love and respect,



Your Transformation Tour Guide

I’m a surthriver. 

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0 Responses

  1. Alison

    I love made up words that become stronger than the original. I aspire to be a surthriver, too. I feel that life is not about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle it. That’s for any difficult situation that life throws at you.

  2. Kathy Gottberg

    Thanks for the great article. I love the word….”surthriver”….hadn’t heard that one before! And I agree that the better we are at being resilient, the better we can weather no matter what comes our way…. In fact I wrote a blog about that idea myself that I titled, “Resilience–Do you break, bruise or bounce when stuff happens?” If anyone is interested they can find it here: Again, thanks for the article and the great reminders!

  3. Wendy Cobrda

    Janet, thank you for sharing my thoughts on your blog. We are totally on the same page on so many things, your enthusiasm for this way of thinking comes as no surprise.

    I think I am most attracted to people who are surthrivers. They seem more compassionate, but not in a weak way. Those people who I have become very close to make themselves vulnerable by sharing their stories and their solutions. They don’t dwell on the bad. They don’t even focus on the lessons learned. They just seem to move on with whatever they are doing but they seem to be wiser, in an old soul kind of way.

  4. Oscar Gonzalez

    A surthriver! I love the word and I totally agree with you that a survivor is just someone that gets through a tough situation because they “need” to. Surthriving means rising above and beyond mere survival. Awesome post.

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