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Just Living Versus Living With Purpose

Updated on June 18, 2020
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Michael is a 2006 graduate of Collins College and has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, branching into IT/coding fields.


A God Given Revelation.

I was taking my usual walk around my neighborhood for exercise; it was a nice day and the weather wasn't too warm. I reach the end of that walk, and then decided to sit on the grass of our driveway under the shade of a tree; just sitting there, amidst all of God's goodness and letting thoughts escape my mind. Then I heard a voice telling me:

"Why are you sitting there?"

At first, I was angered; I just wanted to sit down. Is that wrong? Am I not supposed to sit down? I can't just sit? I can't just live? But then it hit me; there is a difference between just living and living with purpose. Therefore, I would like to reflect on these two ideologies using both experiences over my life, and the current situation of our time in the year Two-Thousand Twenty. There's going to be a lot to unpack, so get comfortable when reading this.

Just Living

Many people that want to just live are simply seeking that; just living. They're not after the moon or the stars, just being able to take each day as it comes and not worry about life or what they are doing in it. As with all stances, there are benefits, as there are problems.

How This Is Beneficial

First off, stress is lower. People are amazed by those that simply want to live and not have to get themselves caught up in the 'rat race' or 'hamster wheel' that is our regimens, routines, and rituals. Instead, they take a simpler approach as things happen around those dedicating time to just living.

Another benefit is that they are in a place that there is little issue/concern taking place at the moment. There is no emergency that requires urgency. To be fair, we all have those moments of peace in between milestones in our lives, but for those focused on just living this is where they are all the time. There's no trouble in their lives, so living is all they need to do.

Finally, there's the belief in focusing on the now as you are living now. You made it past yesterday, and tomorrow isn't here yet; just live now. It doesn't get any simpler than this. That said...

How This is a Problem

Stress is lower, but so is a sense of responsibility. Just living implies that you don't want to handle anything else, and in some cases, they don't. This causes problems in keeping bills (if there are any) paid, thus losing out on utilities or worse, their home.

This becomes an even bigger problem in terms of goals they have in mind; if any. IF you only focus on just living, then they would not make efforts to better their life each day. That means you may or may not live in a relative peace of mind.

Finally, while they are just living, life itself will not simply let people just live. It's not as simple as the birds in the trees and skies or the fishes in the rivers and seas. Flowers don't just live.

What Happens Overall

The point is that of priority. If you are just living, then the priority is to the here and now, and just let all other aspects give way to whatever happens with them. It is important to deal with the here and now, but zeroing in on only that can be costly to come. Even so, neglecting the here and now is far too stressful and that will cause problems later on; that's what it means to focus on just living.

Living With Purpose

Just living is one part of this discussion; there is also those living with purpose. This is fundamentally different from just experiencing the moment, but not surprising in that each moment is necessary as part of a grander direction.

How This Is Beneficial

This mindset serves three core benefits:

  1. It helps with a sense of urgency or relevancy. What do I mean by this? Living with a purpose or goal in mind allows you to direct your efforts towards a goal or preferred outcome; this isn't something that will always come on that day, but you are taking steps toward that eventuality. It also helps keep certain perspectives relevant to that goal, knowing that the goal is ahead of them and needed to be completed in a reasonable time frame.
  2. It creates a process. With each purpose, they take the necessary steps to better themselves and their skills to reach that goal. It can be as simple as taking a walk 5 days out of the week (averaging 2 miles per day) or as complex as financial tax auditing or creating a computer programming language and processor engine. That process will be the guidance and stepping stones to achieving your goals and fulfilling that purpose in life.
  3. Results are seen firsthand. Just as a farmer surveys crops, or a stock trader carefully tending to their portfolio after it shows great dividends (yes, even now as of this article during these challenging times of 2020), the efforts of hard, smart, consistent work pay off.

How This is a Problem

Just as "just living" has their share of problems, living with purpose can be (and is for some) burdensome. These include:

  1. Stress levels from expectations. Working towards a purpose is indeed beneficial, so long as one is able to reach it within a certain time frame that is acceptable. The problems then become what is "acceptable" along with the results from the effort focused on their purpose. There's also expectation that causes stress; the kind that creates such loftiness as it being "game changing" or "pivotal" to one's definition of success. From this stress comes the silent killer of fatigue, which can complicate one's health and well-being; this is often ignored by the desire to fulfill the purpose they believe to have.
  2. The Process involves a great deal of Trial and Error, which further exacerbates the first problem: stress. A purpose is presented but not a means to get to it, so the act of planning, working, and planning again, all the while stumbling and fumbling to the right answer. RARELY do these plans go straight to success; there were bumps even reaching that point. More often the results range from positive acceptance of the result to being downright disastrous. This leads to the third problem.
  3. Results vary. Not all conditions will be ideal enough for the "big break" and most often than not, failure is the result. This can discourage those living with purpose as they feel their purpose is so far away and beyond their grasp; or worse, they felt it within their grasp, only to slip away. The pursuit of completing their purpose can consume them, and the only indication of their efforts being something grandiose. Anything less, it will feel worthless. That's a big problem for those that may see a desire to living with purpose.

What Happens Overall

Similar to just living, living with purpose is a focus on priority. Instead of the here and now for most things, it's to an end to come justifying the means to getting to that end. Yes, focus and urgency are vital for living with purpose, but the stress intensifies. You also have to iron out a process, else your efforts are not as concentrated. Finally, results are the measuring stick for the purpose being sought.

How Each Aspect Affects the Other

This is a relatively short section in that it boils down to a story of a rich monk and a poor monk. They both knew each other and trained together before going their separate ways. One works directly for the emperor and has all the necessities, so long as the emperor was pleased; the other lived with the common folk and was not always clean, and didn't always have the best of meals, yet had a place to stay and food to eat. Then one day the rich and poor monks met alongside the road. The rich monk looked at his friend and said "What happened to you? If you served the emperor, you wouldn't need to live so poorly." Yet the poor monk gave a rebuttal "If you learned to value what you have, you wouldn't need to serve the emperor."

One focused on their purpose, and was rewarded. One appreciated the here and now, and never stressed nor worried. The same can be said of these two ideologies; those with a desire to fulfill a purpose are similar to the rich monk ... seeking fame and prestige or a goal that will be rewarded to them, and thus their happiness is made manifest. Those with a desire to just live are like, but not necessarily the same condition as, the poor monk; not where they could be, but never weary of their circumstances that would make them concerned. Priority is the moral of this lesson, so what priority in life is the focal point?

There's No Clear Answer ... For Now

This article, while having its viewpoint expressed, is not the solution for everyone to use, if it can be used at all. This is an ongoing discussion in terms of what works best for the individual Reader. For those that believe the life of just living is sufficient, know the challenges and gifts therein. For those that believe living with purpose is vital in their lives, weight critically each step as you proceed.

The end result should be that of improvement and a sense of peace that we must all seek. How we reach that point shall always vary, and here is where I must make a decision in order to keep going. God Willing, it will be the right one.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Michael Rivers


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