What is the difference between living and existing?

This question reminds me of a book by Seneca the Younger, a stoic philosopher, titled: "On the Shortness of Life". I believe in the translation he said these exact words: "most men have only existed long but haven't lived long."

In his words exisiting long is what most people seem to want to to do with their lives. According to Seneca most us are just busy chasing wealth and running around anxious about one problem or another, so much so that we even find it very hard to enjoy the fruits of that labour, because after we make money and solve one problem more problem keep arising and we find that half of our lives has been spent towards this direction of just waking up drowning in anxiety without actually LIVING and enjoying the real essence of life.

And in this generation where we are "blessed" with various distractions at literally every nook and cranny of the. We find it hard to concentrate upon the most important things, and really LIVE. Instead we let our minds drift upon sensational, fleeting stuffs that doesn't seem to really matter.



According to Seneca most of us don't like to focus on the present. We either get anxious about the future, drown ourselves in worry--over filmsy things--send ourselves into depression, or obsess over the past and beat ourselves up over our mistakes, thereby getting really pessimistic about life, instead of focusing on the present--which is HERE and NOW, and the only thing we have full control over.

This has a rather terrible effect of distracting us from really LIVUNG life and enjoying the moment. AND the world is full of so much beauty, happening all around us every time, here and now. From the sunlight to the moon, to the grasses swaying to cool breezes--all these things are sources from which we can derive happiness and optimism and strength with which to face the upcoming events of life, instead of getting anxious for nothing and only existing instead of living.


The next step after living in the moment is making the moment count.

You can spend your day doing things that really make you happy; just taking a second as time out to enjoy all the fruits of your running around can go a long way in ensuring a fruitful life. Spending time with your loved ones, spending time laughing getting to really know the people around you, the atmosphere, all these are all ways by which we can REALLY LIVE our lives instead of just existing through it

in anxiety.

Another philoaopher who wrote extensively about this was Aldous Huxley, and he also had the same things to say. Don't just walk through the moment like a zombie, enjoy the moment, pay attention to it and make it count!

The Upanishad, and other great ancient eastern texts also drum upon this philosophy as the first and probably the most important step in human liberation.


Vicissitudes are the ups and downs of life. Things will not always work the way we want them to. One second things are going our ways and the next they're not. If we let ourselves get too engrossed in these vicissitudes, we find out that our lives become an object that is swept this way and that way depending on what life chooses to throw at us.

But if we try to live our lives in such a way that we don't get toi affected by these ups and downs, really focusing on the things that matter; the little things that give us happiness, we'll find out that our lives become more fruitful and we are able to enjoy things more and live our lives instead of merely existing.

Admittedly these are not very easy things to do, seeing as we may get overwhelmed by our troubles around you sometimes, but I can assure you that if we try our best to focus and follow the points layed down by Seneca, we will have a very rewarding life and experience and we can be able to say in the end that we really LIVED instead of merely existing.



This question can be viewed from two different angles. One is of scientific and another being philosophical.

From  the scientific point of view, any specimen that you come across comes  under the category of 'existing' since you can sense and feel it. The  specimen has to satisfy one more condition in order to be known as  'living'. It must show the additional signs of anabolism and metabolism  happening within it and also must have the capability of moving on its  own either by means of real movement or through growth. In short, plants  and animals are living beings whereas stone and soil are mere existing  beings.

However,  when it comes to the real substance of your question, which I'm quite  sure was about philosophy surrounding the human beings, It got some  entirely different meaning. Its elaboration itself can take up more than  a 500 page book. However,  it is also possible to make it in two  sentences. Obviously I'll go with the latter!

In the language of  human beings, if you are doing nothing substantial other than following  some survival practices such as eating, sleeping and again eating, you  will be referred to as mere existing creature. Your existence adds zero  value to yourself and those around you!

On the other hand, if you  are doing something great either for yourself or the society around you,   then you will be regarded as a person doing something substantial and  you for sure will be regarded as 'Living' creature. See, you are adding  value to yourself and also those around you!

I have chosen to live. What about you?


 As for existing, our existence forces us to show more of what we are, strives to have better results than it has always had, looks for what is superficial, wants to give meaning to everything it finds, just like a scientist. Existence believes that because you have more years you are more expert.

On the other hand, living seeks to enjoy every moment, to take advantage of the fact that you are alive at this precise moment to learn something new. He does not try to explain what he sees, he prefers to live happily in this world no matter what will happen. It is the experience that will make you be grateful just for being breathing right now. One afternoon watching the sun go down can mean a most beautiful afternoon.

Existence and experience are opposite. You can be walking normally, you can have excellent health, you can have a lot of money saved, you can have a great profession, many degrees accumulated over many years, a great job, a perfect family but you just exist and that's it.

Exist, it's about getting up every day at six in the morning (or before), then having breakfast and then going like a zombie to your work and being bored for eight hours or more while you dream that you are in a better place, then you go out , you take the same route to your house, you sleep at the same time to get up the next morning to do exactly the same ... that is to exist.

Now be a better person and, above all, enjoy each of the moments of your life no matter how much money you have, just do new things on your own and have fun at all times enjoying every second, that is to live, that Yes, it is to feel life in all its magnitude.

The difference between the people who simply exist and those who actually live can be seen even in their faces. those that exist are almost always with the expression empty and boring, while those who live category are almost always happy and expressive face.

It is very sad to see the people who suffer for things that are not worth it, to see many people who pursue superficial things, things that in the end will be destroyed, they will be spent, and they do not look for things that make them feel more alive, happier. .

So clearly there is a big difference between living and existing ..

I live every day and you? do you exist or do you live?


About $2000 a month


I think existing is just waking up and going through the same sorry routine everyday.

Living is enjoying life and making the most out of every second you have on this planet. 

One involves a smile and the other a frown. 


Wow, this is such a technical question I must say because the two words mean the same thing but put in different context can mean entirely different meaning.

Well I must say first that as long as you have life you are living and you are also existing.

But when put in another way living could mean that someone is doing well in life, really living life to his fullest.

For example someone can be described as living large which means he is really on top in life in this context and when you say someone is just existing for example,it gives the impression that he is just trying to meet end needs and that he is not really living up to expectation or standard.

So in my opinion living and existing can mean the same thing based on how it's used and can also mean different things entirely when also used in another context.

So it's based on the subject matter,who is been referred to,on which basis it's been used that someone can really differentiate between this two words that are closely related.


Sorry.. I have mistakenly posted this answer two times. Deleting this one. You can see my answer among other answers in this thread.


Existing then again, is just breathing and doing the day by day tasks. I for one feel that the greatest distinction in living and existing is the measure of control you have on your life, on your feelings. ... Somebody who exists lets feelings, for example, dread and outrage manage what they may or may not be able to.