The 5 B’s of Thriving: Accessing God’s Love

Photo above by: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


The global pandemic has caused many of us to have a surviving mindset. How can we use this opportunity to thrive even when we face uncertainty? Our research at the Thrive Center has found that thriving is a process of transformation towards one’s purpose, to becoming one’s most authentic self with and for others. Below, our framework highlights the five modes in which we can actively develop the “muscles” that help us thrive. 

Woman doing yoga outdoors
By Luemen Rutkowski on Unsplash

1. Body

Thriving involves our whole being. Quieting the body (and mind) opens us to God and others. Be connected to yourself, and pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally. Especially during these turbulent times, be mindful of how stress affects your body and engage in practices such as:

  • Finding a daily physical exercise to reduce stress and anxiety. Our bodies, just like our emotions, require care.
  • Conducting a 3-minute body scan to help attune to your embodied emotions. Focused breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, putting us into a state of rest and relaxation.
  • Meditating or contemplating on scripture. Contemplation calms our body, mind, and spirit.
  • Pursuing activities that activate positive emotions. Boosting positive emotions can improve our physical health and immune system.
Man reading scripture
By Priscilla du Perez on Unsplash

2. Beliefs

Our beliefs form our identity, and direct us toward purpose. They give us access to transcendent experiences (e.g., God’s love). Be aware of your core beliefs—what brings meaning, strength, and hope in your life? Use this opportunity to re-evaluate what matters most, and align your life to your highest values accordingly. Be intentional about making traction towards what matters. Some ways include:

  • Engaging in prayer for yourself and for others. Prayer practices are an active way to reframe upset into actionable, positive steps, and can reduce anxiety through reassured of hope for the future.
  • Writing or keeping a daily journal on your spiritual journey. Journaling helps us explore our beliefs and values through self-reflection.
  • Reading sacred texts or engaging in Lectio Divina to further understand and explore God’s love.
Group of women sitting together
By Joel Muniz on Unsplash

3. Belonging

Thriving involves being known and loved as our authentic selves. Research indicates that communities, such as religious and spiritual communities, often provide individuals with a sense of belonging. Invest in and nurture the relationships that truly matter.

  • Clarify who is in your community. Ask yourself to whom do you belong—intimately and communally?
  • What are the life-giving relationships that can support you in your journey toward thriving? Cultivate a small group of three to five trusted friends or family members.
  • Practice loving kindness, such as intentionally listening to others the way in which you would like be listened to.
  • Contribute to your community’s needs. Evidence shows that helping others can foster sense of purpose and belonging to both parties involved.
Couple walking together through flower field
By Jaddy Liu on Unsplash

4. Beauty

Often overlooked as a resource for thriving, beauty can elicit positive emotions that can inspire vitality and elevation. It can connect us to something bigger than ourselves. Beauty involves nature, music, visual arts, and other forms of creativity. Create space in your life to experience beauty through the following spiritual practices:

  • Taking a simple walk and observing the world’s beauty through the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) to restore the spirit and feel God’s presence.
  • Visiting an art museum and focusing more on the embodied experience of the art around you, rather than the intellectual experience.
  • Accessing creativity—whether through photography, painting, music, or writing—to be in a flow or state of absorption.
  • Finding a quiet spot and sitting alone with your thoughts. Meditation can lead to deep experiences of inspiration.
Person lifting hands during prayer
By Jon Tyson on Unsplash

5. Beyond the Self

Essential to thriving is a prosocial orientation beyond ourselves. This not only involves our understanding of transcendence (i.e., that there’s more to life than the day-to-day), but also an ongoing contribution to the world beyond ourselves. We thrive when we help others thrive. When directed by love and care for those around us, we are able to transform our society for the greater good. Transcendence can be experienced by:

  • Participating in communal worship, singing, and even dancing. Faith communities often provide the contexts in which we can feel transcendence.
  • Listening to and sharing stories of hope, patience, gratitude, love, and forgiveness. This gives us a sense of spiritual joy that allows us to see beyond ourselves and our own needs.
  • Seeking awe through nature, relationships, and/or meditation. Awe helps us recognize what is really matters by connecting us to our own sense of spirituality and the world around us.
  • Volunteering toward or leading a cause aligned with your skills, passions, and beliefs and values.

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Thriving is a process of transformation that requires us to actively develop our body, beliefs, a sense of belonging, a sense of beauty, and an orientation beyond the self. Here’s a printable PDF of the “5 B’s of Thriving” to serve as a daily reminder.

About the Author

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King, PhD, is the Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science at the School of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy in Fuller Theological Seminary. Her primary academic interests are applied research at the intersection of human thriving and spiritual development. Dr. King's work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable all people to thrive.

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