Thriving – what do we really need to prosper?

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Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.

My husband often takes me to some random, but ultimately very interesting places! We recently visited a fascinating museum at Eastriggs in Scotland called ‘The Devil’s Porridge Museum’. The Museum tells the story of HM Factory Gretna – a munitions Factory in World War 1 where the explosive cordite was mixed. It was dangerous work for the 30 000 workers, 12 000 of whom were women.

On the wall of the museum was a quote which read:

‘If you are to get the maximum of efficient work out of people you must see to it that they live in healthy, cheerful conditions, that they are well fed, that they breathe pure air and drink pure water, and that they are provided with the possibility of mental and physical refreshment.’ ~ Robert Lorimer

The work was so dangerous and gruelling that I found it hard to understand why and how anybody would stay in the job; and yet people worked in the factory for long periods, often until the war ended and the factory was no longer needed. They developed friendships and a sense of camaraderie even within such a difficult and dangerous environment.

The quote from Robert Lorimer says so much, I believe, about why the workers chose to remain in such challenging conditions. Despite the war, despite the danger, they were part of a community where they felt valued, supported, and cared for both by their employers and their peers.

I am not, of course, writing a blog to explore the war, or of the motives for the care for the workers who were being asked to carry out incredibly dangerous work. I want to explore and highlight the conditions we need to survive and thrive, even when our environment is less than ideal.

Robert Lorimer’s words remind me that to really thrive, there are several basic requirements, and these requirements are not necessarily all within us.

So often I hear people suggest that they are inadequate in some way because they seek help and support. Phrases such as “I should be able to do this by myself” or ‘I’m weak because I can’t do it alone” are often spoken, but as humans we are not designed to exist alone.

It is always beneficial to know that within us we have resilience and the skills and ability to get through, AND having a community around us that offers care, support, love and fellowship is equally important. It is not one or the other. When we have connection to, and trust in, our inner strength and insight AND the support of the community around us – our ‘tribe’ – we have multiple resources to carry us through.

There are so many phrases we hear that demonstrate this – “’no man is an island’ and ‘find your tribe’ come to mind straight away. Being a part of a community and asking for help from that community is such an important skill to learn. If we start to see asking for help as another tool in our self-help toolbox rather than a sign of weakness or failure, it can transform our lives and the communities we live in. We start to support and feel supported, and we develop a sense of cohesion that strengthens and lifts us up.

I invite you to think about what you might do in times of struggle. Do you feel able to reach out for support? Can you share your struggle and accept help, and still know that you have resilience, and you are enough? Knowing that we are not alone can often make all the difference.

My April challenge to you all is to think about how and from whom you might ask for support as and when you need it. Just like on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’, who are the people you will you choose as your ‘phone a friend’ for your various challenges?

With April love. Sarah



 How can I thrive in difficult Environments?

 It often seems the environment must improve before we can thrive again, but we can still thrive even when our circumstances are difficult. Having access to support and care to help meet our physical and emotional needs, as well as connecting to what really matters to us helps us to work towards creating a response to our circumstances that is beneficial and helps to meet our needs.

Why and how do people do challenging and dangerous jobs like those in HM Factory Gretna?

Despite the inherent dangers, individuals often choose to carry out such jobs when they feel valued and cared for. The sense of camaraderie , as well as a feeling of doing what matters to them (following their values) can offer a powerful source of motivation and resilience.

How can I start to build a supportive community around me?

Building a supportive community involves actively seeking out and nurturing relationships with people who offer care, support, love, and friendship. These may be family members, friends, colleagues, or support groups where you can find others with shared interests.

Is it really ok to ask for help when I face challenges?

Absolutely! Asking for help is a recognition of our human need for connection and support. Seeking help is a strength and an important resource for overcoming difficulties.

What if I struggle to ask for help – I haven’t done it before?

When we do anything new it’s common to feel hesitant and vulnerable. Reminding yourself that it is a sign of strength and thinking about how asking for help could benefit you might be helpful.

You can start by finding the people who you trust and feel more comfortable with, and gradually share your challenges.

How can I develop my resilience?

Self-awareness, and self-care practices can cultivate your resilience. Activities such as mindfulness and therapy can help as will being able to recognise and acknowledge the difficult times that you have already come through will show you your resilience in action.

Building a strong support network will also contribute to resilience by providing encouragement and help through tough times.

Remember, resilience doesn’t have to look a certain way. Just getting through is a sign that you are resilient.


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