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Survival, recovery and flourishing

While living from love has many common elements, depending on where we are in our lives, it is likely to have very different priorities.


To someone poor, alone, who lives with exploitation, and often feels endangered, living from love is likely to be framed as survival, how to get through today, tomorrow and next week.

When we are struggling to survive, living from love entails finding some slack, however minimal, through meditation, or even prayer, where we can be present to ourselves. It requires some means of pausing the struggle, so that we can remember, or realize, that we are persons who, simply because we are alive, are intrinsically valuable, as valuable as anyone else.

Survival may be a time less for giving love, than for receiving it, and for the often very difficult task of unbounded love and acceptance of ourselves. Without some version of this self-love the demands of others can erode, diminish, and may disable us, setting in train a downward spiral where the less we love ourselves, the less we are lovable, and the less love comes towards us.


For someone who has been traumatized by accident, attack, loss, or other setbacks, living from love is likely to be affected by the task of recovery.

All of us are likely to be to some extent ‘in recovery’, whether, as the origin of the phrase indicates, from substance abuse, or the death of relatives or friends, or divorce or a fall, or merely disappointment.

Recovery implies the experience of shock, the pain of loss, or of transgression, as in rape or assault, or sexual abuse or of a problematic birth. In such circumstances, as with survival, living from love entails recovery or re-iteration of our sense of our own value, of our human rights as a person – safety, justice, freedom of association.

With recovery, living from love entails avoiding both blame and forgiveness, acknowledging rather than denying a crisis, and especially of ‘holding’, of being patient, letting events unfold, and waiting for healing to occur. More actively, living from love means reassessing and rebuilding values and beliefs that may have been dislocated.

To be a living from love companion in someone’s recovery means showing up, being there for them, being patient with their need to repeat their story, and leaving out advice unless it’s asked for!


For a prosperous, ‘successful’, economically independent person, living from love can be, but often isn’t, framed as flourishing.

So far as we have attended adequately to the redundant learning* that attended our upbringing, flourishing is a state of being that is likely to emerge. This is not to imply that flourishing is a comprehensive state of grace that suddenly descends, more that, like living from love, it is a priority that increasingly asserts itself.

The particular take on living from love that accompanies flourishing is creating. Creating the life we want, rather than, as with survival and recovery, making the best of the life we were dealt. I mean creating in the most comprehensive sense, of which the Balinese have provided a living example, as Marshal MacLuhan described it, ‘the Balinese don’t have art, they do everything as well as possible’.

Flourishing, manifest through creating, is perhaps the strongest version of living from love. It also intersects with the transpersonal, pointing to a fusion of personal, political and ecological experience that sidesteps the limitations of ‘spirituality’ and heritage religion.

*(for indications of what this means, see Emotional competence in this section).

Here is an account of a Cooperative Inquiry into Flourishing

Here is web introduction to the broader reaches of transpersonal psychology.

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This document was last modified on 2005-11-07 09:04:33.