Wasting, Existing or Thriving

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”Β ~ Oscar Wilde

Have you ever had this opening remark directed at you? It’s a stunning statement yet for some people, it may apply or have applied. It’s certainly not complimentary and it could be a life changer, if accurate and intended. But let’s shift from wasting time and life.

Enter existing. Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before. That’s okay, and comfortable for some (many?), until you’ve gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life. Existing can be synonymous with an endless status quo, idyllic, anchored, indifferent, stale, slogging away.

Simply existing is really kind of sad. Dodo kind of sad. While penguins and ostriches are flightless, penguins can swim and an ostrich can run fast. The dodo simply became extinct when a predator was introduced. While we cannot fly, most of us can do things that are exciting, invigorating, like swimming or running.

Have you watched your kids go off to college, only to realize you missed their childhoods? Time wasted? Sure we have jobs, chores and others things we don’t necessarily enjoy, but a large part of living is focusing on the enjoyable; actively engaging. It has been proven that if you focus on that which makes you miserable, you’re not going to live fully. And many will acknowledge that simply existing can be miserable. Still, if existing is to what you aspire, then who is anyone else to encourage you otherwise?

But if you want to truly live life, to thrive, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from a mundane existence and embrace life. Truly living involves spending time doing things that inspire you. Even if you only sing briefly in the shower, if that’s what you truly love to do, enjoy yourself and live it. You don’t need a recording contract or groupies, simply enjoy the experience.

If you’d like a couple of reminders for how to thrive, here are four:

  1. Learn to be 100% responsible for your life. Admit/own your ‘mistakes’ (aka learning opportunities) and learn from them. Trust that something better will happen because of them and thus, allow you to live both more aware and at choice.
  2. Thriving is important because you are a person of great value. You are worthy of the best life has to offer.
  3. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, concerned about what might go wrong. Be bold. Invite some risk. Quit your job and start your own business (plan it out first!). Ask out that person to whom you’ve been attracted to for some time. What have you got to lose?
  4. And this one might get me in trouble… Turn off the TV. How many hours do you waste (see, we’ve come full circle to waste) in front of that screen? Lessen your attraction (addiction?) to it and find other things to do, things that will stretch or challenge you. Consider actions that will nourish your thriving.

51 thoughts on “Wasting, Existing or Thriving

  1. What you say is true to me. The more responsibility I’ve taken for my choices, the lighter and happier I’ve become. It wasn’t easy at first though. I was unkind to myself for some “bad” choices. I realized over time there are no bad choices. Some work better though πŸ™‚
    We are worth it to thrive, not to only exist.

  2. I encourage those four reminders, especially number four. Watching television is rare for me. We watch an occasional movie or documentary. I admit every once in a while I feel like watching some mindless comedy sitcoms though…

    • And that is all they are, Suzi, possibilities to consider in support of revisiting how and with what they choose to spend their time and energy. Thanks for your “encouraging” remarks. πŸ™‚

  3. A lot happens in this life. And I know that whatever happens, I am 100% responsible for my responses (and my reactions, too, as I am always a learner). When some people might say, “I’m a survivor,” I am happy to say, “I’m a thriver!” Yes, I am worthy of this wonderful life! I’ve never been a risk taker, even as a youth with the usual prefrontal cortex goings on, but I do welcome and initiate change. Life is change, ready or not! I’ve left some really tough jams and arrived to some pretty happy places. I’ve taken leaps from way out on limbs. I’ve fallen and flown. And, Eric, I must say I’m so glad to see that you included TV (I would add other gizmos, too, like this little Chromebook I’m tapping away upon). Unplugging connects us with our friends, and families, and ourselves. Connection, not escapism, is how I intend to use my gadgets and gizmos. Thank you for these good words for thought, Eric. I appreciate your posts. Smiles!

  4. Wonderfully written! Thank you for this inspirational cheer to do more than ‘simply existing’. Yes, let’s do what we love. This post speaks to me of moving beyond surviving and on up to thriving! Cheers, Gina

    • Indeed they are, Kevin! πŸ™‚ There are many who seem to be on the same wavelength as you, myself included. The challenge of course, is how can be encourage others to ‘unplug,’ and focus instead on connecting and interacting with one another in some more traditional ways. I, for one, do not have any desire to form relationships with my electronic devices! Thanks for adding to this thread.

  5. Love the opening quote, also reminds me of the quote in the movie Braveheart: “Every man dies, but not every man really lives…” Breaking free from a mundane existence is easily wished, but you have given a great start with your list at the end. Wonderful post Eric!

    • Wilde was a wise one. And until you mentioned it, I hadn’t thought of/seen the similarities with the Braveheart quote. I agree that lots of endeavors are “easily wished.” The challenge lies in whether one wants to effect change in themselves, so as to further enrich their life. Thanks for contributing your thoughts, Randall.

  6. When Andrew joined Matt for College, we moved to Tokyo. The first couple of months were terrible. I remember looking across the table at John and saying, “Oh my God, we’re back to just the two of us.” It was terrifying. It would have helped if we didn’t like our kids, but we really did enjoy having them around. You get through it. As for quitting your job – heh! heh! heh!

  7. There’s that dreaded word “television.”

    I agree. Turn it off or, better yet, get rid of it. No one on their death bed ever said they had an exciting and fulfilling life thanks to television.

  8. Engaging in any activity in a mindless way can be a waste of time . . . whether that’s blogging, listening to a podcast, watching TV, or reading a book.

    It’s NOT the activity but the attention we bring to it that matters. When we are mindful of how we spend our time, we enhance our lives and determine where our priorities lie.

    • Whenever we are engaged in the moment and enjoying ourselves (even if we are “only” chopping wood or carrying water), we are not wasting time ~ we are living in the moment and thriving in the now.

      • I soundly concur with you, Nancy, on both comments, but don’t know if everyone would agree with us. There are considerations and interpretations (for example, semantics) that others might choose to take into account when defining and choosing what wasting, existing and thriving means to them. The purpose of the post was more to prompt thought about how each individual chooses to live – to check-in with themselves and think about how fulfilling they find their life. For me, consciously being in the now does not always equate to thriving but that’s just my take. πŸ™‚

  9. This post might interest you and your readers:

    In it, Maggie quoted Susan Jacoby’s view that blogs β€œspew forth, in largely unedited form, the crude observations of people who are unable to express themselves coherently in writing…”

    I’m sure Ms. Jacoby would add a #5 to your list ~ stop reading blogs.

    From my perspective, the problem does not lie with blogs or TV. It lies with us. See your #1. When we reclaim the reins, we control what we put in and what we get out of every experience. There are GREAT shows on TV and WONDERFUL blogs. They’re also a lot of “empty fodder.” It’s up to us to pick and choose where we place our attention.

    When we are mindful, we are rarely wasting time.

    • As do most of us, Ms. Jacoby possesses and is entitled to her opinion. While I again agree with you, I do believe that many people do not know how to or choose to not practice mindfulness. When they don’t, perspectives are going to differ. It seems, considerably, to be about personal choice and where one (to your point) places their attention. Yet factoring for bias, filters, beliefs, etc. – what could easily emerge from the blender is a mix of awareness, satisfaction with the status quo, an urge to shift behaviors, and a host of other considerations that might cloud or clarify what can be done to waste, exist or thrive. Lots of elements in play to simply yield only one simple solution.

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  11. Such a wonderful reminder, thank you Eric. I believe many of us know this – deep down in our guts, it’s an ideology that we strive for, yet the forces in opposition of us thriving are so incredibly powerful. For me, to be candid, I believe I come in and out of this awareness. I’m conscious when the weeks have flown by – consumed by work and “just living,” and I tend to believe that I do a gut check and attempt to right the course, only to find that several weeks later I’m doing the same (we should develop a patch for this!). I can also imagine that with fortitude, living one’s life in this way, fully, is possible, and when it happens it is probably akin to our ears clearing the pressure built up after a long flight – bam, everything is painted with a finer brush. I am so grateful for the people in my life and I want to live to the fullest extent with them – thank you for this reminder! I heard a great interview with a journalist (in his memory, unfortunately) that, when asked what is advice was to young writers, simply stated “go somewhere interesting.” I have adopted that mantra and in a way can’t stop repeating it – relevant to living and both writing (for both me, and my characters). That somewhere interesting can be right in front of us. πŸ™‚

    • From the man whose thoughts always give pause and that I very much appreciate, comes the idea of “a patch.” If that’s a patch as in a dermal application, I am all over it! You, of course, will receive due royalties for idea generation. πŸ™‚ To your thoughtful comments, I’m not sure it even requires fortitude. I sense heightened awareness coupled with commitment (and therein may be the fortitude facet) can yield desired alignment. Thanks for allowing your word choice and writing skills to find their way into the above. “…when it happens it is probably akin to our ears clearing the pressure built up after a long flight – bam, everything is painted with a finer brush.” That is vividly poignant! And to your closing reminder, I firmly believe (and concur) that our somewhere’s interesting are right in front of us – ready to be seized and embraced. Thanks for stopping by, Dominic.

  12. Hi Eric, nice to meet you, and to explore your wonderful blog. I hope this article helps some people to take some risks towards a more fulfilling life. Two and a half years ago we jumped off a cliff and have not regretted it for a second. Really the choice for us came down to have a home, or have a life. A no-brainer really.
    Thank you for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey, both inner and outer. Blessings, Alison

    • It is delightful to meet virtually meet you (and Don!), Alison. In its simplicity (and I suspect the act was less than simple). I love that you chose to have (and thrive) in “a life.” The metaphor “jumped off a cliff” is the envy of so many. Kudos for having the clarity and strength required to take on such a bold (and can I say, fulfilling?) action. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  14. This post reminds me of a great quote from the book Illusions by Richard Bach: “In order to live freely and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. This is not always an easy sacrifice.” In the past, boredom has given me security, both financially and emotionally. But I’ve come to realize that’s not enough for me. I want to live my life! I also appreciate the perspective of a “baby boomer” (if you identify as such, I see the tag on the article). As a younger person, I’m trying to make choices now so that I can look back on my life without regrets. I’m taking steps now to thrive, and make peace with the unknown. Thanks for spreading your great ideas.

  15. I am a boomer. πŸ™‚ One who applauds you for your awareness and desire to effect changes now so as to ensure you enjoy your life journey. Thank you for creating time to read the post and share your warm and encouraging comment. I sense you are intentionally transitioning from your comfort zone into an exciting growth zone. Revel in the experience!

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