Living vs. Surviving

Living and surviving are two entirely different things, and surprisingly enough, most people settle for survival in their lives and often neglect any semblance of actually living. So, what’s the difference?

Survival is the state in which you ensure you have food, water, clothing, housing, and not much more than that. Survival is the reason people stick with jobs they hate, stay in relationships with people they don’t actually get along with, and otherwise do whatever it takes for the basic necessities of simply staying alive. It isn’t always misery and suffering, but it also isn’t enjoying life or having a feeling of fulfillment or contentment either. 

Living on the other hand is enjoying life, being around people you care about and who care about you, doing what you love, and altogether feeling like every day of life is a blessing. Living is a feeling that every experience you have leads to something greater, a better understanding of yourself, your purpose, personal growth, and a feeling like things are going your way. Though it’s not always honey and roses, genuinely living is what human beings were meant to do… have you ever heard the phrase, “Life has to be more than working, paying taxes, and dying,” and if so how did that make you feel?

The major difference between surviving and living lies in the mindset of those either surviving or living, it is a stark contrast between those who live in the past and those who live in the moment and see a bright future. Those merely surviving often see themselves as a victim, whereas those who are living see themselves as a victor, taking personal responsibility and accountability as paramount. Those who are surviving often have a million excuses for why they “can’t,” and often place the blame for their failures onto others, whereas those living shoulder the blame and try to learn from shortcomings. 

While it might seem counterintuitive that taking responsibility for failures leads to success, it comes from the ability to learn and grow and do better the next attempt, not giving up. The adoption of the victim mentality is done by those who have given up already and rather than face the difficulties of changing themselves, would rather see the world change to meet them at their lessened level. Knowing these two diametrically opposed viewpoints, you can easily see why some survive and some truly live life. 

 Surviving is a horrible way to live, it is a half-life where you treat everyone outside of a specific social construct as a potential enemy, a potential group to uphold your meager survival position in life. Those truly living have taken control of their lives, refusing to let anything or anyone hold them back from achieving their goals, they are warriors, and they have a victor’s attitude and mindset. 

So, how do we change it?

Firstly, you’ll need to stop and assess your life and the choices you’ve made, both good and bad. You will need to stop living in the past, no more, “I can’t do it because xyz happened,” and stop blaming others for your own poor choices. Sounds harsh, because it is the harsh reality of life, without sugarcoating and devoid of patronizing pats on the head saying, “there there.” 

Perpetual victimhood will only allow you to survive, it might get you sympathy from those who don’t understand how they are enabling this condition, but it will take you no further. You will work, pay taxes, and die, rinse lather and repeat throughout the branch of your family tree. Do you dream of being and doing more, of living more, or do you dream of people’s pity?

If you just want pity, then by all means go right ahead and be a victim who lives to suffer and barely survives, it’s your life to waste, but if you dream of more, you’ll need to abandon that mentality. Truly living and being successful in life doesn’t happen overnight, you have to move forward, regardless of how slow you do so, you have to keep pressing onward. Living is for the victorious, surviving is for the victim and the choice is entirely up to you. When I say being successful, I’m not talking about making huge sums of money either, success is subjective, one person’s success is another person’s almost there. 

So what does success look like to you? That should be the first question you ask yourself, because if you don’t know, then you’ll never attain it. What does truly living a fulfilling life look like to you?

Atop being a psychotherapist, Eriksonian hypnotherapist, and neurolinguistic programming practitioner, I am also a life coach, which some scoff at, but my clients would attest to the tremendous changes I’ve brought to their lives. One thing I always stress to clients is, what does success and living life fully look like to them, this is step numero uno towards actually making big things happen. Oftentimes, jumping from one mindset to another looks wholly unrealistic, they will say success is Elon Musk money and a Jay Z lifestyle, and while these things might sound good, you’d be setting yourself up for failure.

Be realistic, but always set forward reaching goals, and don’t be afraid to let your perception of success and genuine living change over time. Let nothing hold you back, not even yourself!

Set goals with subgoals to reach them and set a realistic timeline to achieve those goals and you’ll find life improves incrementally over time. Make every day count towards reaching those goals; do not let a day go by without seeing some kind of growth, either in yourself or towards the goals you have. Victims sit around hoping, victors go out and give it their all, actively working to better their lives.

The fact is, you can be a victim perpetually, or you can be a victor for the rest of your days, it’s all in how you allow your perception to take hold and the mindset you hold onto. You cannot be both victim and victor as the two are diametrically opposite to one another. So, are you surviving or are you living?