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Of course we all want to thrive—the problem is just getting there during a uncertain, chaotic period of life that is new motherhood. But the good news is it’s possible to feel like you’re totally rocking life, even if a baby woke you up five times last night and your toddler is boycotting foods that aren’t made with processed cheese flavors: A new study from the University of Portsmouth outlines exactly what it means to “thrive” and how any of us can get there.

"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 lead researcher Dr. Daniel Brown in a media release. “It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something and succeeding at mastering something.”

In other words, we’re thriving when we feel good about life, ourselves and our accomplishments. Of course, developing that feeling of thriving within oneself isn’t always easy—hence the whole life-coaching industry.

But Dr. Brown says there is a formula for “thriving.” It comes down to having some (or all—go, superstar!) of these traits:

  • Optimism
  • A sense of spirituality or religious grounding
  • Motivation
  • A willingness to take action
  • Flexibility
  • Social competence
  • A passion for learning
  • Confidence in self

According to Brown, you don’t have to be or do all those things at once. But if you manage to incorporate a couple of them into your attitude about life, you’re on your way to thriving.

The second list is more about the external factors in one's life. This means you have:

  • Opportunities
  • Support from family and bosses
  • A calm environment
  • A high degree of autonomy
  • Manageable challenges
  • Trust from others

If you check off boxes from both lists, then science says you are thriving. ?

Of course, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “A calm environment? Did I mention I’m a parent?” That’s completely fine. Again, the research shows you don’t need to meet all the criteria.

So go ahead and embrace your opportunities to foster great things in the lives of your children. That qualifies as thriving, too, mama!

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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