Surviving V.S. Living - Which Are You Doing?
Are you living or surviving? Surviving is not living, there is so much more to living than just surviving. Has someone ever asked how you are, and you respond by saying "surviving." My guess is, if you haven't said it yourself, you have heard it. Think about what you meant when you said it, or the context in which it was a response from someone else to you. The main difference between surviving and living is as follows, and perhaps more simple than you thought. Surviving is getting by, doing the bare minimum to in fact get by. Living, however, is defined as the style or way a person chooses to truly live their life.
You may also hear "surviving" explained as merely existing, doing what's necessary to stay alive, for example sleep, eat, and showing up to work for the paycheck. Living however, is when you choose to live your life with purpose and don't allow anything to hold you back from living each day to the fullest. In truly living we are taking in each moment, savoring each moment, and being mindful of the things around us, the environment around us, the smells, the sights, utilizing our senses to enjoy even the smallest- or what seem at the time like the smallest of things. In living, we are making the decision to do things with intention, to embrace whatever is thrown our way, to truly participate and engage in these things.
Thinking about it now, are you truly living? or are you allowing yourself to exist by simply doing what you need to in order to survive? consider this, were we put on this planet to simply survive, and if so, why? or, were we put on this planet to make a difference, to leave our mark, and hopefully to leave the planet a better plan than we found it? Personally, I go with the latter of the two. I believe we all have a purpose, for some of us, it may take longer to figure out what that purpose is. It took a lot of hardships, plot twists, change, and growth for me personally to figure out the right path for myself. Once I was open to change, I was able to truly start living a more pleasurable and fulfilling life. I found, what we call in psychotherapy, a life worth living. As children we are astonished by everything, we notice every detail, everything is exciting and we are able to find joy. As we get older, this sense of wonder isn't lost, rather becomes clouded and we forget that we still have that small child within us that if we pause, if we are mindful, we still possess that same sense of wonder.
Every interaction we have ever had with another person has in some way had an impact on us. What we choose to take from the experience is on us. We can opt to view only the negative, or we can choose instead to take the lesson, the knowledge, and the positive from that situation. If we learn to practice gratitude, and can in turn be thankful even for those people who have hurt us, we can move beyond the hurt. Perhaps that hurt made you a stronger person, perhaps it taught you to set boundaries, it may have also helped you learn what types of behaviors and treatment you are willing to take from others.
Close your eyes, think about the ocean, picture the ocean in your mind. Now, imagine the sound of the ocean, the smell of the ocean, embrace the colors of the waves as they flow in - and out. What does the air feel like, the sand beneath your feet, the breeze on your face. Be fully there.
Now ask yourself, if you were at that exact spot, the beach your mind took you too. Would you be living? would you notice these things and engage all your senses? or would you simply walk by, barely noticing a thing. In living we are doing just that, noticing our surroundings, embracing them, perhaps even finding pleasure and happiness within these things. Rather than simply surviving and letting life and all it has to offer, pass us by. I encourage you to consider these things, not just at the beach, but in your daily life. In your home, your office, in nature, when out in public. So often we forget to embrace and truly live, and we let life pass us by without realizing how much wonder and amazement is all around us. PAUSE. Allow yourself to enjoy the little things, to embrace life, and to truly start living.