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The secret to thriving—not just surviving—in all areas of life, according to science

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Photo: Stocksy/Bonnin Studio

How is it that some people seem to succeed in all areas of life, with a dream job, cool friends, a loving S.O., and a flourishing side hustle? According to new research, there is actually something that sets thrivers apart from others who are going through life just trying to survive. The secret? Mindset.

Researchers did a deep dive, looking at studies on everything from acing academic tests, athletic performance, career accomplishments, and even longevity. Through their digging, a common theme kept popping up: People who felt good about about life and themselves—and were good at something—were more likely to hit that “thriving” threshold.

“It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something, and succeeding at mastering something.”

“It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something, and succeeding at mastering something,” says Daniel Brown, PhD, a sport and exercise scientist at the University of Portsmouth in the UK and one of the study’s researchers.

Dr. Brown found that there were a few key personality traits that successful people had at least one of, which include being optimistic, spiritual or religious, proactive, motivated, adaptable, and socially competent. He also found that having one or a few of these traits coupled with having a strong support system, a calm environment, or a career that challenges you, resulted in a thriving gold mine. This shows that life success isn’t 100 percent controllable, but at least some of it does have to do with the way you see the world—not the cards you were dealt.

“Thriving is a word most people would be glad to hear themselves described as, but which science hasn’t really managed to consistently classify and describe until now,” says Dr. Brown. How to get a more positive outlook to direct your path toward Thrivetown, USA? No need to banish negative thinking, actually—keeping it real by being authentic is a good thing. But word of (anxiety-reducing) advice: You might want to stop telling everyone how stressed you are.

Positivity can be powerful, and so can confidence—here’s a fun way to develop more of it. Plus, five morning habits that will make you feel like a badass all day.