I wrote that on social media recently and a couple of people thought something in my life must not be going well. No. I am doing better than I ever have been.

I wrote it because it’s true. And because there are times in life where you should not focus on thriving.

Here are three examples.

The first example is the most obvious one to me. A small business owner who is either targeting a very niche market or who provides a service in a small community that is not being done well (or at all) by competing businesses.

You know what the secret to success is for those types of businesses?

Don’t quit and don’t go bankrupt.

You literally just have to survive long enough to build enough trust and goodwill to have a profitable business.

Second example. Depression.

Your depression lies to you. It makes you delusional. The biggest lie depression tells?

“This will last forever.”

No. It won’t. And depending on what stage of depression you are in, depending on what type of depression it is, sometimes the way to beat depression is just to survive long enough to realize that your depression will not, in fact, last forever.

Third example. Negative experiences in relationships.

I read a recent article in The Atlantic about studies done that track people’s satisfaction in their relationships. “Marriages usually don’t get better. The ratings typically go downhill over time. The successful marriages are defined not by improvement, but by avoiding decline.”

This fits with my own experience watching couples. The couples that thrive for decades as happy couples are not the ones who were the most in love, the best communicators, or who had the most in common. They were the ones who were the best at navigating conflict and stress.

I’d love it if all that “be positive”, “aim for the stars”, “believe in your dreams” advice was always true. It is certainly sometimes true. And if you haven’t gotten there already, I sincerely hope that some day you get to the point where you are thriving, not surviving.

But sometimes success is just about not going bankrupt, not giving up, not saying cruel things in the midst of an argument. Sometimes success really is just about survival.