If you feel like you’re just existing not living, start doing these 7 things differently

Benjamin Franklin said, “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75”. 

A sobering thought. 

It’s sad but true that many of us lose our enthusiasm for life and fail to regain it. There are also many people who never even knew what they wanted their lives to be.

And this is the difference between merely existing and really living. 

When we exist, life is boring, monotonous, and deeply unfulfilling – we’re just going through the motions without any real purpose or feeling of fulfillment.

A close friend of mine once put it nicely, describing it as “like going through life with rubber gloves on.” 

Then, on the other hand, living means embracing life; being excited for the day, month, year ahead, and having goals and dreams you’re actively pursuing, as well as being open to new experiences.

So, if you feel like you’re just existing and not living, start doing these 7 things differently.

1) Forget mulling over your current situation, instead get back to basics

Living is all about having a clear purpose in life… so it’s time to get definite on where you want to go. 

If you’re stuck in a rut, that’s not something you can think yourself out of.

So, the first think you need to do differently is to stop ruminating on your present situation and go straight back to the beginning.

Even if you’re well established in a career, it helps to uncover some of that youthful enthusiasm you were once full of.

Do this by considering what really gets you going… what you’re truly passionate about.

And maybe this has evolved since you were 20 (and that’s good), but chances are, if you’re feeling blah about life, you’re not doing what you were put on this earth to do.

Think about what makes you happy, what excites you, and what you enjoy doing. Identify your purpose(s) in life and make them the priority.

2) Don’t keep looking at things the same way, reframe your mindset

Those that exist are simply going through the motions of life, doing the bare minimum, and feeling like they’re in a state of limbo. 

Sounds grim when you put it like that, right! 

On the flipside, people ‘living’ have a growth mindset and are always evolving as individuals, which is why they feel so fulfilled. 

So, it’s time to sort out your attitude.

Resist the habit of always looking at things in the same way, instead reframe your mindset to find the positives and opportunities in everything. 

(And they’re always there!) 

Worrying about things, complaining, overthinking – let them all go. They don’t serve you; they aren’t life-giving activities. In fact, these will keep you on the fast track to a frustrated and bitter future self.

3) Don’t just go with the flow anymore, take control

So, imagine you have a newly defined purpose and are enjoying the (numerous) benefits of a positive frame of mind.

Now it’s time to create a plan of action.

Chances are you’ve been one to ‘go with the flow’ for years… how has that worked out for you? 

Being easygoing may not seem like a damaging thing… but the older you get, the more dangerous it becomes.

To truly live, it’s essential to set goals and work towards them.

This is because as well as giving you purpose, goals give you something to work towards.

Something to measure your progress against. Something to chase and feel great about when you make small, daily strides.

At the end of the day, not making a decision is a decision. And it’s never the correct one, ever. 

So, stop being a passenger of existence and structure your daily grind with clear (challenging) objectives in mind.

4) Stop playing it safe, start taking some risks instead

I’m guessing you’ve have been pretty risk averse in recent times…

That’s because risk avoidance is associated with feelings of depression or simply just being ‘stuck’

It’s also often how we get into a state of simply existing. We become safe and responsible and then boredom kicks in. 

On the other hand, living means embracing life, seeking out new experiences and making the most of every moment.

It’s all breaking free of your comfort zone and trying new things.

And that’s not possible without taking a few risks!

So, stop playing it safe. You don’t need to sign up for a skydive but take some calculated risks and don’t be so frightened of failing.

It’s a huge part of life and will help you become better.

5) Don’t stick to what you know, try something new

You can be excellent at your job, popular in your social groups, and accomplished in your hobbies… and you can still feel like you’re just existing. 

This is because you’re not making progress.

Nothing makes you feel less alive than stagnation. You’re indifferent about life, aimless, unchallenged. You know you can do better.

So, forget sticking to what (or who) you know, it’s time to branch out into new territory.

People who truly live are constantly learning and growing, they take personal development seriously.

Why not take up a new sport, learn a new language, or do a course? What’s important is that you expose yourself to something new.

Never ceasing in your quest for knowledge will make you feel a hundred times more alive!

6) Stop taking what you have for granted, start being grateful

It’s easy to be blinded to all the positives in your life when you’re feeling empty or trapped

But there are always wonderful things you can be grateful for.

And you can bet that those who are living and not just existing as actively grateful for all their blessings. And because they focus on what’s good in their lives, they attract more of it.

Being mindful in this way has a transformative impact on how you perceive your life to be.

Not reliving the past or worrying about the future but relishing the here and now is guaranteed to make you more appreciative of your reality. 

And deliver more enthusiasm to make it even better.

So, this is something you’re going to have to master if you want to stop existing and start living. 

7) Don’t stay in stagnant company, instead find matching energy

The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your life. 

If you want to start living (as opposed to only existing) only choose to be around positive people who inspire and motivate you. 

Staying in the same stagnant friend group will only scupper your efforts to get more out of life. Instead, you need to find energy that matches your newly founded lust for living.

Psychotherapist Esther Perel says, “the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” 

So, make sure the relationships you invest in are with upbeat and supportive people to live life to the fullest. 

Final thoughts

We all get stuck in ruts sometimes. And it feels like being stuck on a treadmill, never reaching a destination. 

But by adapting your behavior and choices, you can escape mere existence and really get involved in life.

It only requires positive thoughts and action. 

So, what are you waiting for?

Niamh McNamara

A freelance writer fascinated with human nature and social dynamics, Niamh read literature, history, and philosophy at university before spending time in journalism and PR. Armed with a passion for words and ideas, and a healthy appreciation of the ridiculous, she tries to make sense of it all. Connect with Niamh on X @NBMcnamara123

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