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Survive or Thrive BLOG

Survive or Thrive. That's the name for my new blog. It's also the name of a book I'm writing that I hope to have published in early 2017. I plan to share my model on the blog of three types of survival defensive brain networks: Freeze, Flight, and Fight. I'll contrast that with how the brain operates differently from these survival defenses when it instead goes into Thrive mode. 
I also invite contributions from professional counselors, psychologists, etc. but also from anybody interested in the topic. I'd like this blog to be an active forum for  knowledge, questions, and shared experiences.
Here are a few examples of possible topics you could write about:
                        How I learned not to run away from scary situations. 
                        How my Fight network has helped me survive.
                        Three things I do that help me thrive.
                        The year I shut down ... and how I emerged from it.
Please write me at info@potter-efron.net to discuss submitting a blog entry.

Would you like to be a dedicated reader of the Survive and Thrive Blog? That means I'll send you via e-mail a notice every time there is a new entry. No charge or expense involved. Just send me an email to info@potter-efron.net and I'll add you to the list.

What about COMMENTS on the blog pieces? Yes, send your comments to me at the above address and I'll add them after the article -- so be sure to tell me which article you are commenting on.
 


Thriving Despite Chronic Pain Added 02/08/2017

By: Ron Potter-Efron

I’ve recently read a chapter entitled “Chronic Pain and Depression: Vulnerability and Depression,” by Akiko Okifuji and Dennis Turk (in The Neuroscience of Pain, stress and Emotion (edited by Mustafa al’Absi and Magne Flaten). The authors try to determine what factors help people with chronic pain cope well while others become depressed. I think the answers apply to many aspects of life beyond chronic pain. Read More...

 

Focusing on the Positive by Noticing What is Freely Given to You Added 01/16/2017

By: Jenny Berger

During a recent conversation with my brother, he mentioned a practice that he does to appreciate some of the good things that happen in his life.  It was to keep track of the free goods and services that come your way. Read More...

 

Survival in a Safe and Generous World Added 12/27/2016

By: Ron Potter-Efron

Crack! The right wheel on our SUV fell off. Not a good sign, especially when you’re surrounded by traffic on a freeway on the Friday before Christmas on a rainy/icy road. Ten seconds later we were stranded on the shoulder, about 80 miles from home. Scary. Read More...
 

The Life-Writer Added 12/13/2016

By: Ron Potter-Efron

 I’ve just finished reading what I consider one of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s why, with special emphasis on the theme of survive or thrive. Read More...
 

The Strange Election of Donald Trump - an Evolutionary perspective… Added 11/27/2016

By: Rich Pfeiffer

Have you noticed during the 2016 Presidential campaign cycle how the mainstream media (NY Times, CNN, NPR to name just a few) as well as many establishment figures - mostly Democrats but even some Republican leaning individuals - have displayed a Green, Post Modern, Pluralistic worldview. This level of consciousness places strong emphasis on harmony, community, and something of a world-centric perspective and related values. Read More...

 

Thriving After a Big Conflict Added 11/12/2016

By: Linda Klitzke, MS, MFT

As I write this, we have been inundated by the harsh reality that we are a divided nation in so many ways. So many hurtful things were said and done during an almost interminable political season culminating in the recent election that it is mind boggling. So, how do we move from surviving to thriving and cultivate a culture that is more about valuing each other than crushing those with an opposing view? Isn’t this what every person in a long-term relationship must do to go forward and perhaps even find love in each other again?

 

Survival and the Social Brain Added 11/07/2016

By: Ron Potter-Efron

Pentland has done extensive research on how people interact or fail to interact and the effects of that process upon organizational survival. He contrasts relatively rigid organizations with more fluid ones, asking questions such as which organizations will survive and how are the best decisions made.

 

Fear in Every Day Life Added 09/20/2016

By: Joshua Potter-Efron

I don’t consider myself to be one that is governed largely by fear. My father’s theme in the writing he has been doing on his blog is that of Survive or Thrive (http://www.potter-efron.net/SurviveorThriveBLOG.en.html) He has written in the area of anger for at least two decades now and provided workshops on anger across the world – Russia, Australia, China, and of course far too many places to name here in the United States. Read More...

 

The Book of Aron Added 09/09/2016

By: Ron Potter-Efron

I was writing the last chapter of my book currently titled “Survive or Thrive” when my book club decided to read The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard. The story is based on the real life of Janusz Korczak, a famous pediatrician who becomes head of the orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto during World War Two. However, it is told in the words of Aron, a boy who ages from about 10-13 during the story. Read More...

 

A Lyrical Definition of Thriving Added 08/23/2016

By: Ron Potter-Efron

My dictionary defines “thrive” as “to prosper, be fortunate or successful, and to grow or develop vigorously. The word “thrive” is derived from an Old Norse word meaning “to grasp or get hold of.” This morphed in Middle English into thrive, meaning “to grow or develop vigorously.” Read More...

The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...


The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety Added 07/28/2016

By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD

Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely.  Read More...


A parent’s view on teaching a child to get the most out of life Added 7/7/2016

By: Jenny Berger

My daughter is very even tempered.  In twelve years I have only seen her jumping up and down in excitement a few times.  And only seen her truly upset a handful more.  Most of her time she takes the ups and downs that life throws her way with a simple, matter of fact approach.  This being the case, it is often hard to tell what my daughter is thinking and feeling inside.  I have learned to read subtle cues to tell me when she is sad, happy, or frustrated. Read More...


The Power of Powerlessness Added 6/24/2016
By: Ed Ramsay

At birth human infants have no defense against predators. We are among the most vulnerable of all species. We are entirely dependent on our mothers/caretakers to protect and care for us making us powerless to survive on our own.  Thus by our very nature, birth is a traumatic experience. The experiential nature of trauma and vulnerability does not require a didactic awareness. Read More...

How Do You Define “Thriving?” What are Three Main Characteristics of Thriving? Added 06/20/16
By: Ron Potter-Efron

Hello readers. I want your help. I’m writing a book on thriving but so far I haven’t really found a definition of the term I like. Also I’m compounding a list of characteristics people associate with thriving (e.g., curiosity, open-mindedness, etc.) and I’d like you to tell me three other characteristics you associate with thriving. Read More...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety

 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...The Value of Anger; The Need For Safety
 
By: Dave MacQuarrie, MD PHD
 
Imagine that I are in a crowd, and someone pushes against me. It is very likely I will experience anger, at least to some extent. Now imagine I am in a group exercise where I invite someone to push against me. Will I be angry in this situation also? Highly unlikely. Read MOre...

Stepping Forward/ New Path with Right Foot! Added 06/15/2016
By: Eileen Lichtenstein, MS. Ed.

The career path I’m on now was not always it…in the middle of owning a dance-exercise studio (thought I’s come full circle wanting to “be” a dancer – never encouraged by my parents; in fact they refused to help with college finances if I pursued that – only for something “steady” like nursing or teaching they said. Both of my parents were quite modern and liberal for their generation and this was incongruent. Read More...
 

How I Learned Not to Run Away From Scary Situations Added 06/15/2016
By: Shauntel Begley Allen, LCSW

As a child I was always shy and frightened to speak or perform individually in front of groups of people. I thought as I became older, this feeling would surpass and I would become more comfortable speaking to groups of people. Not until I participated in a leadership class did I learn that I was an introvert. You see, introverts draw their energy from within instead of from others. Read More...

First Survive, Then Thrive: a True Story Added 06/09/2016
By: Art Efron

We had already enjoyed a beautiful day visit to Kathio State Park in north-central Minnesota, when we decided to go back for another foray. We drove in and soon reached the little house where the park ranger was located. There was a uniformed man on duty, so we asked if he could recommend a hike, not too demanding, that would be nice for us to take. He showed us a map, and pointed to some lines marking a trail. This trail is just one mile long, he said. You walk it and you come out at a place that's close to where you went in. This pleased us, and we started off right away.  Read More...

Which Emotion is Anger Most Like? Added 06/01/2016
By: Ron Potter-Efron, M.SW, Ph.D. 

I’ve always thought that the emotion most like anger is fear. After all, they both are activated by the amygdala and both go through the sympathetic nervous system. But I now want to suggest another candidate: happiness (or joy or in general the positive emotional states). Read More...

Wisdom: Choosing to Thrive over Survive  Added 05/19/2016
By: Rich Pfeiffer

For most people wisdom is an aspirational concept rather than a daily practice. This is partly because wisdom is not well understood and it is certainly not common in the modern information age and knowledge economy. The idea of wisdom is often imbued with religious overtones. People talk about the ‘wisdom traditions’ that come from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, the Vedanta, Daoism, Sufism and many other religious disciplines. But there is also a wisdom tradition in philosophy and rationalism dating back to the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Clearly wisdom does not require a denominational adherence or commitment so any specific doctrine or institutionalized religion.  Read More...

From Fight to Thrive -- Personal Example  Added 05/17/2016
By: George Davis Jr.

A couple years ago I was going through some things with my wife. I was sitting in the cafeteria at the facility where I was working at the time. I was having my "pancake time", reading information to help me prepare for group attempting to repress feelings that were carrying over from the weekend as my wife had stayed out from Friday to Sunday. I was angry. I was reading something that told me I did not have to be angry...that I could choose to look at things differently and that I would feel differently.  Read More...
 

The Freeze Survival Network: Two Examples from the Animal World and One from My Own World  Added 05/12/2016

I have a good friend, Howard Thompson, who happens to run sled dog teams as a hobby and business here in often snowy west Wisconsin.  Recently he told me about an experience he’d had while running his team of fourteen dogs. Suddenly Howard saw a rabbit almost directly in front of them, perhaps twenty yards away. The rabbit eyed the dogs. But none of the dogs saw it even when passing close by. Why? Because that rabbit sat in place without moving a muscle. It instinctively knew that this situation didn’t call for flight (it would have been useless against all those dogs) or fight. That rabbit’s survival called for absolute immobility. It had no alternative but to freeze. Somehow the rabbit knew dogs’ eyes are great at detecting motion but very bad at spotting still objects.
You may be familiar with an animal who is famous for its ability to freeze. It’s the opossum, who when threatened collapses into what is called “death feigning.” Not only does it stop moving, but it also looks as dead as a living animal can look. When “playing possum” its lips are pulled up to bare its teeth, it foams at the mouth, and it even emits a foul smelling odor as if to say “Hey, I’ve been dead for days now, you certainly wouldn’t want to eat me.” You can push and pull the poor beast and its stiff form will be unresponsive. It stays that way for over thirty minutes and up to several hours, apparently unconscious during this period. Even more than the rabbit, opossums have mastered the art of freezing to survive. 
We humans don’t Freeze up like that very often. One reason is that we have better alternatives, namely Flight and Fight and/or talking ourselves out of trouble. But I remember a time when I was maybe 12 when I saw three bullies heading toward me with obvious ill intentions. And I just stood there, feeling scared and helpless. But maybe my primordial rabbit saved me. They elected to pass by with only a few very survivable insults. 
That’s a relatively minor example, of course. There are many grim stories from the Nazi concentration camps, for instance, in which inmates could only passively absorb being tortured, unable to resist except in their minds. Although some inmates gave up and soon perished others discovered inner strengths that helped them survive. Who knows how often they relied upon the Freeze Survival network to endure?
Do you have a Freeze survival story? Would you share it here? Please e-mail me if you do.
I have a good friend, Howard Thompson, who happens to run sled dog teams as a hobby and business here in often snowy west Wisconsin.  Recently he told me about an experience he’d had while running his team of fourteen dogs. Suddenly Howard saw a rabbit almost directly in front of them, perhaps twenty yards away. The rabbit eyed the dogs.  Read More...
 

Three Survival Networks and One Thrive Network  Added 04/18/2016

Here is my understanding of how are brains are designed. We have three “instinctive” survival networks: Freeze, Flight and Fight. We have one growth network I call Thrive. Each has its own distinct brain pathways that lead to action. Read More...
 

I have asked Dr. Christian Conte to write the first guest contribution to this blog. Chris has emerged as a dynamic force in the areas of anger management, marriage counseling and the like. His website can be reached at www.drchristianconte.com.
 

Thriving on Anger Added 4/18/2016
By: Christian Conte, Ph.D.
 
When we attach ourselves to our anger, it becomes a part of our identity, and we have a tendency to defend that with which we identify. Anger is a natural emotion, but like any emotion, it is not there to remain permanently; it is only there to serve a purpose. When you learn to understand the purpose of your anger, you no longer have to identify with it, only listen to it.  Read More...