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My Take

How to Truly Live Life vs Exist – Part 1

First off, I want to wish you a happy Monday. I’m being a little sarcastic because Mondays’ are difficult and I for one am extremely anxious about this week of 2 exams and a big test. Also my French oral presentation, research project and dissertation next week and the week after. I’m not ready and I’m running scared. Some might say I’m inducing denial out of huge insecurity…however I wish us all a productive week with as much happiness and calm as is possible! Remember, we have to take care of ourselves.

Moving on to ‘How to Truly Live Life vs Exist’, I have a lot of first hand experience with this. There is, in my opinion, a truly large difference. I have been existing for a long time. 

That really does not mean that I was living. Maybe living and existing sound synonymous but I don’t share this view. I admit that they are closely connected, however in their difference lies true happiness. When I was simply existing, I felt like I was marking time. I just wanted the day to be over with in order to get to the next day. Unfortunately, I had that thought every day which meant that I was never in the present moment. Not only that, when I was existing I did not have control over my emotions. I allowed them to control me. Thus, I felt very little power over my own life and I was drifting aimlessly along; a kite, completely at the mercy of the wind. I did not have the motivation, energy, courage or will to change what was not working in my life. This is not rare. When one is merely existing, one might stay in a bad relationship, uninteresting job, etc. Existing entails apathy regarding positive changes that could be made.

Someone who is veritably alive however will most definitely have emotions but the difference lies in what they will do with them. Someone like this will have a handle on their emotions and will not let them dictate their other decisions. Perhaps a big reason people don’t strive for change stems from fear of change and fear of the unknown. We don’t want things to accidentally get worse, therefore we quit before even attempting to make a positive change. It’s another form of “better the devil you know.” We become stuck in a rut, if you will, repeating the same patterns day after day. This is a tried and true recipe for eventual regret. Answer this for yourself; do you want to wake up 30 years from now deeply regretting how you’ve missed out on so much of life? I know that I don’t and I think you’re in agreement. I would rather die than exist, and that’s not at all an exaggerated claim. I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone, but to me the fact that I was existing and not living was probably the biggest motivation for me to attempt suicide. I was constantly in pain, constantly doing things because I had to, and never woke up with spirit and excitement in my eyes. I did not see the day as an opportunity for small greatness; I saw it as another rotation of my hamster wheel. It was a horrible way to live and I was stuck in suspension like that for over 4 years.

marking time, existing but not living life
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on

Only now am I realizing that suicide was absolutely not the answer, and that I should gain control over my mind, start managing my emotions, and setting goals that appeal to me for each day. Here are some of my simplified tips. It would be phenomenally long to explain every detail but that can be seen in my shift of attitude as I’ve been writing in my journal these past few weeks. Incidentally, my first tip is to start a journal to record the emotions you have as you go about your ‘hamster wheel’ days. After just a week, you will probably notice that you’re not very happy with your current situation. You may be writing about your stress, anxiety, lack of motivation, fear, fatigue, weariness, anger, etc. Don’t be afraid to write and interpret the truth about your present reality. Take a good, close look at it. Now’s the time for you to ask yourself some key questions. What parts of your life are draining your happiness, and which are feeding it? Is your job devouring your soul? Do you never have time for self-care? Have you put the things you used to enjoy on hold because you had to make money? Now I love cooking so I’ll present this metaphor that encapsulates my point: You are eating a dish without seasoning. It’s bland and flavourless but adding spices will really make the dish come alive. Therefore, what could you do to add spice to your life?

My next point, in one word, is spontaneity. Have you ever noticed that the things you didn’t plan tend to make you much happier than your rigorous routine? And instead of living for your boss’s approval or your significant others’, start thinking about things that you personally will approve of. Build in time for self-care as strictly as you would your work schedule and deadlines. Your life will unfold as your mind perceives it. Healthy habits + fire in the belly + daily goals = waking up with pep in your step and a thirst for discovering where the day will take you. As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, we are fluid and in a state of flux. No one has to remain on their hamster wheel. In other words, it comes down to whether or not you desire to get off the wheel. You have the strength and it will only increase as you get better. What you really need, above all else, is the will to change. Our ability to do so is another one of life’s miracles. 

Next time I’d like to talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Disregarding those who support or dismiss this theory, I just want to share my personal view and why I find it helpful. In the meantime I send positive energy and a love for all!

What's YOUR take?