I read an interesting story on the internet recently about how one approaches life. Essentially, the article came down to how you would answer this question:
Are you living your life, or surviving it?
I’ve been thinking about this. Most days… on a day-by-day basis I mean, I feel like I’m simply surviving life. I don’t feel like I have any forward direction and I get so easily frustrated that this can’t be the life I’m meant to live. Thanks to my money situation (or "lack of money situation"… if only I could lose pounds from my arse as easily as I do my bank account – HA!) I haven’t been able to fill my leisure time with the kinds of activities I would like. I feel like a slave to work and exercise. I hate performing maintenance – whether that is housework or bodywork. Each day just seems to slip by, and if I’ve made it through to the end without hurting myself or anyone else, I consider that day a success.
The idea that I’m merely surviving life doesn’t fill me with joy and happiness. Surely there is more to it than that?
And you know what? There is.
First, if I look at my life as a whole, instead of the bullshit that might have happened just today, I really do live my life. Sure there are periods of inertia… sorrow… boredom… but they are punctuated with periods of excitment, growth, happiness, friendship, laughter and love. I feel like I’ve lived a life that can’t be rightly described as ordinary. I’ve been through a lot of things that others haven’t (and haven’t experienced a lot that others have, to be fair). I’ve had a varied work history (to say the least). I’m pretty lucky in that I’m now doing a job for which I have no education and no experience that actually does have cool parts to it (like writing and the opportunity to travel). I’ve been to more than 20 countries (and ones that most people don’t ever visit… mainly those in Asia). I’ve lived in three major cities on three different continents. Even right now, I live in flipping London. How did that happen? And in a city where housing is so expensive that people are willing to live three or more in a single room, I have my own flat (and the rent ain’t too bad). I’ve met the greatest people and have been fortunate enough to have them as friends (suckers!). My work, my travel, and my friends have helped me grow and change in ways that I couldn’t have imagined even five years ago.
Even my day-to-day life isn’t all survival, if I take a moment to breathe and really reflect on what’s happening. Like today, a fairly average day and in a bad mood what I would consider just a "survived that" kind of day. I went running twice today – and I’m grateful that I am healthy enough to do that. My boss told me I was amazing for a job that I completed before she could even assign it to me (I am rather amazing). I had some laughs with the people I work with – who are a pretty cool bunch considering we didn’t get to choose to work with each other. I got to eat cookies (there’s a tin of them at work… and thank goodness for that because until payday, I’m treating the cookie tin like my own personal lunchbox). I didn’t get rained on after work when I went for my run… a run which takes me through a four-hundred year old graveyard, along the Thames and past Bishops’ Palace (not many people can say that). I had a full lunch break today and left right at six o’clock. I got to talk to my moms which always makes me feel better. I have a roof over my head. I don’t commute. And although I’m getting sick of rice, I did eat today and that’s not something everyone can say. And there is free coffee at work (and not shittty Korea-machine coffee, either). I’ve also been fortunate enough to listen to cool tunes all day.
So I guess all-in-all, I am living life, not just surviving it. And I think it is mostly perspective. If you are going to just look at life like a chore you have to complete, it sure as hell is going to feel that way. Instead, each day should feel like a gift and a reward in and of itself. And I for one need to work on remembering that. Because when I do, I’m insanely happy and all is good.