May 2, 2022

A Practice: The Five B’s of Thriving by Accessing God’s Love

Our research-based framework highlights the 5 modes in which we can actively develop and strengthen your thriving "muscles."

Photo above by: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Love is at the heart of thriving. Access God’s love through five modes and actively engage in developing the “muscles” to support your thriving. 

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 times of difficulty or stress, be mindful of 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 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.

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. 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 reassurance and hope for the future.
  • Writing or keeping a daily journal. 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.

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 and intentionally listening to others, reflecting back to them what you hear them saying and offering support.
  • Contribute to your community’s needs. Evidence shows that helping others can foster sense of purpose and belonging.

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—the goal is to find a flow or a state of absorption.
  • Finding a quiet spot and sitting alone with your thoughts. Observe and don’t judge. Let the thoughts come and go without judgment. Meditation can lead to deep experiences of insight and inspiration.

5. Beyond the Self

Essential to thriving is a prosocial orientation beyond ourselves. Experiences of transcendence (i.e., understanding that there’s more to life than the day-to-day), provide depth and meaning and often propel people toward contribution to the world. When directed by love and care for those around us, we are able to transform our communities. 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. These stories provide a sense of connection and tap into our instinctive empathy.
  • 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.

Your Free Download

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.

Pamela Ebstyne King Executive Director, Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science


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