Are you living or surviving ?

Believe it or not, living and surviving have very different meanings.

Living and surviving imply a similar context but mean completely different things. Surviving literally means denying and avoiding fatality. It means to focus on staying away from hunger, thirst, danger, and other life-threatening things. It means that you are consciously trying to stay alive, by offering yourself basic needs, such as food, liquid, shelter and sleep. But living, on the other hand, focuses on the opposite. Living is doing things to better the quality of your life, such as growing in knowledge, personality and character, learning new things, enjoying being in the moment, striving to achieve your dreams.

While surviving centres on how to not die, living centres around life and how to embrace life to the fullest. Obviously they both have the same ending result, but the quality of our journey between birth and death is determined by what we do during our mortality. Are we reading a book about how delightful lavender smells, or are we going outside in the summer to physically smell it ourselves? Are we looking at pictures of a beautiful nearby village, or are we planning a road trip to go see it? Ask yourself if we are merely surviving, evading death for as long as we can, or are we living life, doing all that we can do to be happy while we are still alive?

A common problem with simply surviving is having the appearance of being busy. Some have the truly herculean task of juggling the demands of a job, perhaps a relationship, home, or children, pets, bills, without showing a bead of sweat on their brows. But what about those who choose not to work in common employment? The ones who strive to be recognised artists, writers, musicians, and the alike, they are assumed to be ‘lazy’, because they don’t seem to be rushing about or in as much turmoil as your average employee. That is simply not the case, mostly because many have no reliable source of income, or very minuscule at best.

This is why you find the majority of artists, musicians and writers living in basements, posting their work on every social media site and trying to achieve their dream in any possible way. Silently struggling, everything you do has to seem effortless, because struggling is seen as sign of weakness and failure, thanks to the absurdity of today’s overwhelmingly high standards.The pressure of all this is causing cracks to show. The consistent tornado of obligations, responsibilities and demands is catapulting us into a state we all know as ‘survival mode’. Someone operating in survival mode tries to display an outlook of being calm, collected and carefree, but instead secretly experiences emotional turmoil, chaos and irritability.

Drinking, over-eating, smoking, and even shopping are used as quick-fix replacements for endorphins, because so many people are trying to be as busy as possible to be ‘successful’, they don’t have the time for really living. A study has shown that Britain wastes more food than any other nation, throwing a whopping 14 million tonnes away a year. This is more than France and Belgium combined.(

This is partially because so many can hardly find a second to do it, and when they do, they end up with huge amounts of food that go off quickly because they had no time to plan their choices. I recently ran into a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for 6 years. She boasted about a fantastic job, 3 kids, a husband and a car. I was impressed, but something wasn’t right however, she seemed antsy, extremely stressed. I asked her if she was truly happy. She looked at me, her eye twitched and she took a long sigh and shook her head. Many people associate achievement with happiness, but this is obviously a bad thing to do.

So how can we live more, how can we live in the moment and push ourselves to make the best of our mortality before it runs out? Here are the three main points to remember.

  1. Never allow yourself to succumb, surrender or submit to any of the standards or expectations today throws at our society. It is not lazy if you choose not to work, it is your choice what to do, you are in charge of your life.
  2. Experience things for yourself. Reading a book about lemon cake, or watching a TV show about a new gallery opening nearby is good, but eating the cake, walking around the gallery is even better.
  3. Live for what your generation offers if you want to. There is no shame in taking a selfie, providing nobody is hurt by it and it doesn’t break the law. Take pictures of your food, share the recipe with people, eat pizzas and cakes and huge donuts (even if someone says you’re fat, what on earth does their opinion matter if you enjoy eating them?!) Sing along to your favourite song walking down the street, wear what you and only you wants to, don’t let yourself never wear a beautiful pair of comfy trousers or a coat outside because you ‘might look silly’. And most certainly don’t let any bitter, salty opinions try and take the happiness you deserve away from you.

So instead of mindlessly gulping down drinks, really, think of the taste, a bitter sweet apple tango? A raw, fruity tea?. Think of the smells, sights, remember them, give your senses a treat. Remember to live, and not just exist.