I Asked My Friends The Difference In Living & Existing, Here’s What They Said

I have an eclectic mix of friends. Their values and life experiences are vastly different, and that’s what I love about having such a diverse group of friends. I knew when I posed the following question to them, I would get unique answers from each of them. And hearing what they had to say was really fun. The question I asked was:

“What is the difference between living and merely existing?”

These are the answers I received. 

Existing is a more numb, robotic way of life. You go through the motions of your day-to-day life without feeling whole. I think you exist, but there’s something missing to prevent you from living. Living is being able to feel your emotions wholeheartedly and having a sense of happiness, peace, love, laughter, and lightness. There’s no heaviness when you walk or sleep; instead, you feel at ease and can enjoy the moments without worry.”

“I see living as active and existing as a passive act.”


“I think living is more about peace, happiness, and feeling your emotions. I think existing is a more mundane, robotic way where you feel lost and numb.”

“Existing is staying alive for others. Living is staying alive for yourself.”

“Living is being aware of yourself and your journey. Existing is going through the motions of what society tells us we have to do.” 

In one group thread, this conversation led to a selfie exchange of everyone posing with their best “philosophical” ways expressions.

In another group of friends, the question took a unique turn and evolved into a conversation discussing AI and how they feel aliens are watching us. (*face palm*). Here is some of their input:

Living refers to having a purposeful and fulfilling existence with meaningful experiences and relationships while existing refers to simply being physically present and sustaining biological functions.”

“Although not physically, Shakespeare, in my opinion, still exists because his work is present and taught over generations. I believe a body of work can be a branch of existence. I think the answer is simply death or fear thereof.”

The above quote was then added into an open chat with an AI generator, to which the AI “bot” replied,

Yes, you’re correct. A person’s impact and legacy can continue after their physical death through their work, ideas, and influence on others. The distinction between living and existing can be complex and subjective, as it depends on individual perspectives and values. The fear of death can also play a role in how someone defines their existence and purpose in life.”

My friend then decided to tell the bot they would never understand what it’s like to live since they can’t even express human emotion. The AI chat then shut down with an error, and my wild group of friends cheered that they shut down the AI bot.

To say this question and the responses I received went wildly differently than I expected would be an understatement. If you ever want a fun conversation starter, pose this question to a group you’re interacting with. Whatever answers you think you might receive, I hope we all find reasons to smile each day and a sense of purpose. What do you think is the difference between living and existing? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by Nima Sarram on Unsplash


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