Are You Living Or Existing?

liveexist“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. ” – Jack London –

When I first read that quote it was fourteen years ago. I was working for a bankrupt company which was barely surviving and the rest of my life was not much better on any other front. I remember reading that quote and sensing that there was so much more I wanted to do in my life but I was not clear on exactly what that was or what it might look like. What I did know was that I was indeed only existing and that I was in fact a very long way from what I would consider living or having a life.

Years before that I had been living, that I was sure of, but recently up to that point, not so much. I was caught up in “shoulding” all over my life. Basically doing everything that I thought I was supposed to be doing instead of being on a path that made sense to me, giving me purpose and joy in life. I was making a living but I certainly was not having a life and the life that I was in resembled anything but freedom.

What is the difference between living and existing? Here are some examples that might clarify it for you…

Living is being able to find joy and humor in every day life and smiling often whereas existing is going through the day with barely a smile.

Living is approaching your work life with passion and enthusiasm, existing is turning up everyday and collecting a paycheck.

Living is having clear, meaningful goals to work towards, existing is wandering aimlessly through life.

I think you get the idea.

But what can you do on a daily basis to live rather than just get by existing?

Appreciate the great people and things in your life. Try being thankful everyday for what you have in your life and all of the wonderful people who love and support you.

Ignore other people’s negativity. You are the sum total of the five people closest to you in your life. If you are surrounded by negativity and and it is constant from within your peer group, you have two choices. Either ignore their negativity altogether or figure out a way to bring more positive people into your life.

Be who you really are. When I read that Jack London quote it shook me to to my core.  I did not know who I was anymore and I also had no idea how to be me or what I really wanted in life.  You can’t live your life trying to be someone else, or living by another person’s agenda.  Be who you really are. Always.

Embrace change and enjoy your life as it unfolds. I have always had a problem facing change in life. I was on a trip and one of my companions told me that “life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” That really put change into perspective for me. Change is going to happen in life whether we like it or not.  As a matter of fact, the only constant in life IS change.

Let go when you must. Life is not about always about trying to fix something that’s broken. Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed. If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse. Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something better. Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over again with a smile on your face and passion in your heart.

You might believe in life after death but do you believe in life before death?  Do you live or do you exist?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

photo credit: mallix via photopin cc

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