post written by: Marc Chernoff

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

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  • Fabulous, as always!

  • Perfectly stated. Couldn’t have said any of this better myself. :)

  • One word:


  • This is a great list! Just in time. Was having a private pity party this week and reading this list was a great lift - kind of a gentile smack in the face I needed to snap out of it! Thank you!

  • Perfect read for a Monday morning! Wonderful call to action on living life to the fullest.

  • Love all your posts, they keep me positive. This one is so inspiring and motivating!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • All of your suggested actions are amazingly helpful, but #5 is the one of the best among all of them. Thanks for the guidance.

  • Thank you.

    A nice way to start the week

  • Perfect points and principles for life. Such great reminders.

  • Nice way to start my Monday.

  • “And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same. ” Love that line in #4.

  • I really needed to read this now. This week especially. This….

    My Grandmother passed away Saturday evening at 96.

    Your article helps. Thank you.

  • Every entry you post is excellent, each one provokes mind-changing intent, challenges old thought patterns, and encourages even the most static life to action. How can I have a “favorite”? The latest one is always my favorite, this one is no exception. Maybe the favorites are the ones that are needed most, make the most impact at that point in time. I can go back to the archives and rediscover my favorites. Thank you!

  • Such wonderful insight! One thing I have learned is that we can not live happily without love… Amazing John! I know when it comes to personal development it take maturity and growth to advance from eros (sexually / infatuation-al), to falleo (sp) (brotherly), into agape love. A key to success is understanding grace and unconditional care for others. There is a point in life when we cry out “I need help,” and in a great book it describes how we are known by out love. I urge all those who are ready for success, to build confidence in them selves and others and those ready to build self esteem… move past simply motivational sayings and positive thinking and walk in agape love, be unconditional in caring and let grace abound in all that you do. Friends… connect with me on Facebook, you seem like cool peeps…and i love connecting with cool peeps…

  • Loved this… thanks!

  • Awsome - so inspiring! Your posts always make my days worthwhile! Thank you.

  • Always such SUPER insights. This was one of my favorites.

  • Great post! My friend and I read your blog daily and talk back and forth about how great it is. We can always relate to your posts and find things in our life we can change with the inspiration from reading. Thanks!

  • As usual, well said. Your posts really are positive and helpful in my life. Keep the good stuff coming. :)

  • Always ‘am thrilled to receive a new post from you. Leaves me strong, happy, refreshed and positive. Thanks a lot.

  • These are ‘constant’ quality phrases of true meaning that you’ve shared with us. Not even one of your points is a ‘lazy’ string of words. Thank you for that. :)

  • I’m going to share this with my (adult) son. He’s going through a terrible time and these words of wisdom might resonant with him more than when I tell him. I’m continually amazed at the high quality content you are able to put out - thank you!

  • Nene-Edith M. Rodas
    March 19th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Practical Tips for Productive Living, Indeed! Wow. I love it. Please keep it coming. We really needed this kind of guidance, tips and reminder that there’s really more to life than pain and sorrow.
    Oprah Winfrey said it best, “The real point of being alive is to evolve into the person you were meant to be.” and what you’ve got here at Marc & Angel Hack Life is just Amazing. I am grateful to have stumbled in your website. Now I have another reading material that’s so positive and helpful in my daily life. Thanks once again .

  • OK you two … another awesome post. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to these.

    They are just inspired!

    Thank you.

  • Wow, a great read indeed. My crusade if I dare call it such is to remind people to ’stay adventurous’ in life… and well, so much of what I want to say to people is in this post and even more to ponder and live…
    Thank you and Stay adventurous,
    your new subscriber,

  • Excellent! #8 is big.

  • Wonderful post Marc. I really like the idea of listening to your inner voice and discovering how great you are. Life is so rewarding when we live it authentically.

  • Thank you such an inspirational post. I look forward to these and read them as much as I can. This article really put things into perspective, especially number 2 and 11. Thank you for creating a site that is able to uplift us and can bring peace of mind.

  • Excellent post! I only wish that I had learned these things and practiced them earlier in life. Keep up the good work.

  • Thank you so much for the great article, you guys really made me feel better. Thank you!

  • Thank you for such wonderful words. Wonderful reading for a Monday — and EVERY day !!

  • I love how you say “ignore other people’s negativity”. Sometimes we are not even aware of it objectively, but it clutters us more than we think. We should never give this the benefit of the doubt and avoid those negative energies coming from people that have them, and even worst try to bring them in our lives.

  • A great read to start my day, thank you!!

  • There was really no better time for me to read this. I’ve been a huge emotional mess, stressing over problems that I was only creating for myself that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. And now, the stress has been messing up my immune system and such. This is basically the last straw in my opinion, so starting now I’m going to treat myself a whole lot better both physically and psychologically. I’ve practically gone through each day always feeling anxious and worrying about the littlest things, creating the worst-case scenarios in my head, then psyching myself out, making myself believe the horrible things WILL happen.

    I’m so glad I’ve come across this blog. I cannot afford to go any further with the pain I cause myself. Thank you Marc and Angel.

  • I’m not sure why, but I found this list so deeply moving that I wanted to reply (something I’ve never done before on a blog) to say “Thank You” for your work. The hearts of compassionate love and tenderness expressed here must certainly be filled with divine joy. May the sun always rise for you with healing in it’s light.

  • Great read :D Keep it up!

  • I really like the #15. I am finding that the more I let go of the past, the more I can enjoy the present. I get a lot more joy from creating something new than from trying to repair something irreparably broken. I think #3 is essential to succeeding at #15.

  • Thanks for the kudos, everyone. It really moves us to know that so many of you enjoy the content we publish here.

    Your praise and kindness inspires us to keep writing and creating. :)

  • I am going to echo the sentiments of a person on another page here but I truly think this is one of the best sites I have ever been to. I can’t help but to be in admiration of the site and what is written on it. So many good questions and so many good tips. I love “do things your future self will thank you for!” This site is awesome and bookmarked at home and at work.

  • Let go when you must - I needed to, and I just did :D

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Another wonderful list of wisdom. Thanks again! =)

  • Love this!!! What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.

  • This is a wonderful blog! It’s definitely easy, sometimes, to find ourselves just “existing”, so it’s important to wake ourselves up sometimes. I often suspect that the high rates of drug abuse come from a desire to feel alive… a feeling that we are out of touch with our true selves. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself feel more alive. Actually, I know it’s just a baby blog at the moment, but I’m very passionate about putting the passion and excitement back into people’s lives, so I’d be very happy if you subscribed to my blog, too! (linked above) - there will be online workshops and seminars coming up to help people really put the magic back into their lives! :)

  • A really nice collection of tips and reminders. Thanks.

  • ‘Truly Magical’ is the only thing I can think of right now to describe this post!

  • Awesome list. Worth meditating on… and actually doing. Thank you.

  • An amazing list that really helped me think more positive about my future.
    Sometimes we need to be guided to change our lives for the better - Amen

  • What a perfect topic for my life right now. Thanks.

  • You have such a wonderful blog! It is truly inspiring. This article is too. It really makes you think about how much you care about things and what you really should care about and do. I’ve decided to focus on the little things much more. That idea brought me to trying one new thing a day-little and big just to get out of my regular routine and remember everyday is a gift. My blog had just started but you can check it out at :

    And thanks again for the fabulous blog- it is the best I know of!

  • I could not agree more! Wonderful blog!

  • The best piece of advice that can change anyone’s life :-)

    Thank you guys for sharing this life changing article

  • Thank you, very inspiring.

  • Simply inspiring… thank you.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Gave me the motivation I was looking for…
    Thank ~You

  • Thanks for your article man…Really its wonderful…you did a great job as well…you guys really made me feel better. Thank you!

  • 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

  • I really liked this. Empowering!

  • Thank you so much.

  • bookmarked. Thank you!

  • I’m so depressed today. This read couldn’t come at a better time.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • This made me smile when I was so down.. Thanks

  • 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!

  • 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…

  • Exactly what I needed to hear or find… perfect timing :)

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

  • This is fantastic. Thank you for making me see the day in a brighter light.

  • Was going through some bad days, couldn’t have found this article at a better time. Thank you!

  • So motivating! I re-read a few points from this inspiring list daily.

  • I would just like to let you know, your site is awesome!

  • Great write-up. Very positive. Remember, don’t let people with dirty feet walk throughout your mind.

  • Really motivating. Thank you :)

  • 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!

  • Found this when I really needed it. Great timing. Great guidelines. Thanks so much for posting. xx

  • Extremely helpful advice, this helps me loads. :)

  • Great post!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • I really like your website. Great wisdom. I actually found you through my college alumni member. So glad I did.

  • So re-awakening and sharpning. God bless!

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • Thank you for everything.

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

  • 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!

  • Your website is very inspiring to me. Thank you.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Thank you! I read one of your articles each morning and then always feel ready to face the day!

  • 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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