In an effort to discover the difference between living and existing, it would be instructive to first turn to the dictionary. Living, as an adjective, is defined as ‘having life’ or being ‘full of life and vigor’ As a noun it is simply the condition of ‘being alive’. Interestingly, existing is defined almost exactly the same way, to a point. A further clarification is that existing implies that you are living at an inferior level or ‘under adverse circumstances’. Here then is the distinction we are looking for.
So, in order to proceed with this discussion, we have to accept the idea that living is superior to existing. We are accepting the notion that living means being full of life and vigor, while existing takes place under adverse circumstances.
People are totally capable of creating their own adverse circumstances. And some people do. But it is much more common for adverse circumstances to come at you from the outside, through no fault of your own. You might be living a creative and fulfilling life when the big shoe falls out of the sky right on your head; fires, floods, hurricanes, poverty, earthquakes, war, volcanic eruptions, unexpected death in the family. We could go on and on.
The point is, your wonderful life can turn into a nightmare in an instant.
Difference between living and existing – Who made the rules?
When researching, the difference between living and existing, I have run into a number of statements with sentiments like this:
‘To live is to realize that there is more to life than work and money. To exist is to find joy only in material gain.’
So, who made up this rule? A statement like this is both arbitrary and ridiculous. Most people need to work and make money before they have the luxury or the time to enjoy life to the fullest. And there is nothing intrinsically wrong with enjoying a little material gain.
With the exception of people who make their own hell, most people are full of life and vigor. They love their families and live fulfilling lives. That is until some force, beyond any one individual’s control, interrupts their wonderful life with some serious adverse conditions. At this point you go from living to existing.
You are basically in survival mode. And it would be unfair to suggest that you have no purpose at this point. Your purpose is to simply survive and get through the bad times alive and with your health intact. If you can do that, you might just be able to start living again.
So, from my perspective, the difference between living and existing is most often a matter of circumstance beyond the control of any one individual. The big foot in the sky is always hovering overhead. You can only hope it doesn’t come crashing down on you all of a sudden.
Retired from the real world after several careers. But thinking back, college was a lot of fun. And researching various topics for debate team was one of my favorite things to do. On this little website I get to research anything that catches my attention. How fun is that! Add in a little commentary and opinion for good measure. And that’s it!