15 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

15 Ways to Live and Not Merely Exist

As Jack London once said, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”  Far too often we travel through life on autopilot, going through the motions, accepting what is, and having every day pass like the one before it.  Everything seems relatively normal and comfortable, except that constant twitch in the back of your mind that’s saying, “It’s time to make some changes.”

Here are 15 simple suggestions for those who want to break free from the mold and truly live more of their life – to experience it and enjoy it to the fullest, instead of settling for a mere existence.

  1. Appreciate the great people and things in your life. – Sometimes we don’t notice the things others do for us until they stop doing them.  Don’t be like that.  Be grateful for what you have, who loves you, and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they’re no longer beside you.  Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it to live.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  2. Ignore other people’s negativity. – If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative before you know it.  Ignore unconstructive, hurtful commentary.  No one has the right to judge you.  They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  You do not have control over what others say; but you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say these things to you.  You alone can deny their poisonous words from invading your heart and mind.
  3. Forgive those who have hurt you. – I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I trust them.  I just don’t have time to hate people who hurt me, because I’m too busy loving people who love me.  The first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Be brave.  Be strong.  Be happy.  Be free.
  4. Be who you really are. – If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it.  Being YOU is worth it!
  5. Choose to listen to your inner voice. – Life is a courageous journey or nothing at all.  We cannot become who we want to be by continuing to do exactly what we’ve been doing.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.  Do what you know in your heart is right for YOU.  It’s your road, and yours alone.  Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.  And be sure to appreciate every day of your life.  Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, and the worst days give you the best lessons.  Read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No.
  6. Embrace change and enjoy your life as it unfolds. – The hardest part about growing is letting go of what you were used to, and moving on with something you’re not.  Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting, and have faith that things will work out.  Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.  You might not end up exactly where you intended to go, but eventually you will arrive precisely where you need to be.
  7. Choose your relationships wisely. – The best relationships are not just about the good times you share, they’re also about the obstacles you go through together, and the fact that you still say “I love you” in the end.  And loving someone isn’t just about saying it every day, it’s showing it every day in every way.  Relationships must be chosen wisely.  Don’t rush love.  Wait until you truly find it.  Don’t let loneliness drive you back into the arms of someone you know you don’t belong with.  Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.  A great relationship is worth waiting for.
  8. Recognize those who love you. – The most memorable people in your life will be the ones who loved you when you weren’t very loveable.  Pay attention to who these people are in your life, and love them back, even when they aren’t acting loveable.
  9. Love yourself too. – If you can love children, in spite of the messes they make; your mother, in spite of her tendency to nag; your father, even though he’s too opinionated; your sibling, even though she’s always late; your friend, even though he often forgets to return what he borrows, then you know how to love imperfect people, and can surely love yourself.
  10. Do things your future self will thank you for. – What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  Make sure it’s worthwhile.
  11. Be thankful for all the troubles you don’t have. – There are two ways of being rich: One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have.  Accept and appreciate things now, and you’ll find more happiness in every moment you live.  Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have.  And remember, you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.  Read The How of Happiness.
  12. Leave enough time for fun. – Sometimes you need to take a few steps back to see things clearly.  Never let your life become so filled with work, your mind become so crammed with worry, or your heart become so jammed with old hurts or anger, that there’s no room left in them for fun, for awe, or for joy.
  13. Enjoy the little things in life. – The best things in life are free.  There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.  Watching the sunset over the horizon or spending time with a family member. Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.
  14. Accept the fact that the past is not today. – Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you.  You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay.  The past is not today.  The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased.  It can only be accepted.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
  15. Let go when you must. – It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken.  Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed.  If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse.  Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something better.  Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over again with a smile on your face and passion in your heart.

Photo by: Toni Blay


  1. Xuan says

    I read a piece of your notes every morning when I wake up. It gives me a smile to begin my day. Things become better. And comes the feeling of freedom and happiness!
    Thanks a lot!

  2. Tina says

    Thanks for encouraging me with these words and lessons in life. Failure is a vital part of life and God gives me strength to get back up and try again and again; but sometimes you get tired of all the failures and you need strength to keep going. Your posts did just that today. Thank you again!

  3. Brianne says

    Again another truly inspiring passage.. I’m writing some of this down. So in the future if I find it, or someone else stumbles upon it, they or an older me can think for a while and choose happiness

  4. Heather says

    Wonderful article! I’ve been really stressed out since the beginning of this year and it’s really nice to remind myself that just by making a few positive changes to my life choices and perspective, I can change my life into the one I want to have. Thank you!

  5. Kat says

    How I wished I had read this earlier this year. I really needed some guidance. This is so true, especially about the past. I am hoping for tomorrow <3

  6. says

    There are 2 ways to go through life: One is as if everything is a miracle and the second is as if nothing is. The best way is to remain curious and awestruck as if everything is a miracle!

    Thanks for the article!

  7. Sue4u says

    Wow Marc your website is truly amazing and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your abundant wisdom in life and tips that have helped you stay whole, healthy and happy! Keep up the greatness!

  8. says

    Very positive and inspiring except for one line “laugh back at them for being the same”. I would love to read as love them or forgive them for their immaturity. Just my thought…

  9. Reisa says

    Thank you, thank you and more thanks! I will share with my children. What wonderful conversations will come of this beautiful and moving article!

  10. says

    I still remember the book, “Boundaries” which really helped me put human relationships in perspective.

    The book links are really helpful.

    I stumbled upon another book here that really helped and encouraged me to pursue my dream and vision!

  11. says

    What a fantastic post. It really made me think about how lucky I am; I am surrounded by wonderful people and I need to remember this more often.

  12. Dixie says

    Marc-I just found your website tonight in a time of searching for a way to change my life and go on. The last year has been the hardest of my life and I have just been barely existing from day to day. You have given me so much to think about, so many words of wisdom. You will never know what your words mean to someone who is truely in need of love and guidance. Thank you from the botttom of my heart!

  13. Blessing Ukauwa says

    WOW!!! Rightly stated. Do keep it up, you really can’t imagine how many lives you are positively influencing.

  14. says

    Thanks for sharing another great article. I especially liked # 7 on Relationships. My favorite line, “And loving someone isn’t just about saying it everyday, it’s showing it every day in every way.”

    God bless,

  15. says

    Some very good advice. I particularly think it is a good idea to be who you really are or else you spend a lot of time and energy on keeping up the facade.

  16. Angel says

    Thanks for this post; reading it made tears drop from my eyes. I am ME and no one, nothing, can ever change it.

  17. Charles says

    A great, great list. I have this printed out and taped up in my cube at work at re-read it often. It has really helped me to re-focus my mind on positive thoughts. Thank you!

  18. says

    I suffer from major depression and love these tips. In addition to these for me by adhering to the the treatment plan for my bipolar disorder I am choosing to live. I refuse to allow depression to control my living a happy and productive life.

  19. says

    My favorite part: “Be who you really are.”

    We all have something that makes us unique. The problem is that we’ve grown up (in most cases) with ideas that we should try to hide our real selves. We have to protect ourselves from disapproval.

    You are not here to be like everyone else, you’re here to be you. It’s a tough lesson, and I still struggle with it today. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be tackled right away.

    You can start with one small step and see where it takes you. Glorious article. Really liked it.

  20. says

    Inspiring! I so enjoy reading your posts, #6 is my challenge currently! I need to practice living more consciously in the moment because whether I embrace my changes or resist them, I’m still arriving precisely where I need to be!

  21. Marina says

    Thank you very much!!! This article helped me out a lot, made me feel less guilty on my journey to stop feeling like I merely exist day in and day out.

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