Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

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Oct '09

Living vs Existing

This website is about travel, and all the learning benefits that the journey of travel brings with it. It’s about breaking out of the normal daily routines and venturing out into a new world of different people and cultures. It’s about experiencing the world we live in, beyond the confines of our homes that we are accustomed to, and most of all its about learning and growing from the adventure.

Before I left for Thailand and China I had an office job that I enjoyed to a certain extent. However coming into work, and sitting at my desk staring at a computer day after day began to get to me. Although I had fun at work with my friends, and always tried to make the best of my time off, the routine I was in made my life feel stale. My life for 2.5 years while working at that job felt pretty repetitive, not a whole lot of significant new things ever happened, I wasn’t often challenged, I didn’t have to step outside of my comfort zone, the things I learned were mostly limited to what I read about or saw on TV… I felt I wasn’t experiencing life… I wasn’t living… I was merely existing.

To me there is a big difference between living and existing… While I don’t think anyone falls completely into one category or another this list will contrast the 2 far extremes between existing and living.


Many people in this world seem to simply exist rather than live. Existing is cold and lifeless, people who simply exist seem more machine than human. They have their lives running on a sort of autopilot, but they don’t seem to know it.

People in this category usually follow the same routine day in and day out. They wake up, upset that they have to go to work, head out the door, get angry at the same bad drivers or the same bad traffic, run into the same type of problems with the same people or clients at work, come home in the same mood, go through the same means of entertainment, have the same type of arguments with their family members… wash, rinse, repeat.

These people aren’t necessarily unhappy, they may be fairly content with their little routine, but they are stuck in a sort of rut, in a bubble, they run the same patterns over and over.

They tend not to learn from their mistakes, perhaps they learn from specific mistakes in specific situations, but not the thinking that caused the mistakes in the first place. They are also a victim of their emotions, when someone cuts them off they get angry, when someone starts an argument with them they get defensive, when something happens in their life they react to it without control as to how they react.

They tend to have more of a victim mentality than their counterparts. They believe they are stuck in their life situation and blame the world and the government and the system for their troubles. Perhaps they call it bad luck. Their own happiness depends on the outside world rather than it depending on themselves.

Some of these people love to mindlessly follow rules, even if the intention behind the rules doesn’t apply to the situation. They are the type of people who only do things based on societies view of how acceptable it is. They fear stepping out of the bounds of what’s normal or accepted. They worry about the opinions of others and try diligently to fit in at the expense of their own opinions.

They generally don’t have real dreams, goals or aspirations, and even if they say they do they take no action to achieve them, or they write them off as something to be done in the future, or perhaps something impossible for them to ever do.

They like mindless entertainment and distractions, anything to keep them from seeing how their lives are passing them by, anything to suppress their desire for something more. Then tend to be more close minded, they have a sort of tunnel vision and only like things that are normal. They resist that which is different.

New ideas and concepts are seen as a waste of time, or even threatening to how they see the world. They are the type of people who hold on to the ideas shared by society even if the ideas are shown to be untrue. They are the type that would persecute the great minds of the past for their unique viewpoints and insights, the type who would have argued that the world was flat.


These people strive to live a proactive life rather than a reactive one. They have the ability to choose how they respond to situations. They don’t let their environment or the people in it control how they feel.

They take responsibility for their life, for their successes and their failures. They know they have the ability to change their life situation if they aren’t happy with it.  They seek out new ways to solve their problems, they ask constructive questions such as “How can I handle this better?”

These people feel deserving of an amazing life, they don’t limit themselves by accepting mediocrity. They strive to be happier and to grow over time. They set out to accomplish more.

They try to remove negativity from their lives. They know negative thoughts cannot help them, and they spend their time doing things that make them feel good. They provide value to others and have a mentality based on abundance rather than scarcity.

People who live tend to like to travel. Not to simply get away from the stresses of their jobs by laying on a beach for a week, but to experience and learn from another culture. They are open to new ideas, and seek them out with a healthy curiosity.

These people try to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and to work on their faults. They are honest with themselves and accept who they are.

They know what they want and they work towards creating the lives that they desire. They have a passion for the things they love and they follow their bliss with enthusiasm.

Transitioning from Existing to Living

We all do too much existing and not enough living from time to time, but the key is to simply become aware of any areas where you want to make some changes and that awareness will automatically start the ball rolling.

Start by bringing some passion back into your life. Get excited about things. Your life is yours to create.

Write out a list of all the things you would want for yourself if you had a magic genie with unlimited wishes. You might not end up getting a toilet made of solid gold but getting clear about what you want is a great first step. Create a vision board and put pictures of the things you would love to have happen in your future. Put pictures of places you want to travel, things you want to experience, stuff you want to have.

I believe the most important step and a difficult one to truly embrace is taking responsibility for your life. Take responsibility for who you are, your past and your future. Bad things happen to people all the time, we make poor decisions, we have accidents, we get ripped off, life can really push a person down from time to time. But how we got into these situations and how we respond to them are completely our responsibility. A bad situation can turn into a wonderful gift if you respond to it with the right mentalities. Napoleon Hill said “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.Make this true for your life by recognizing the benefits of all negative situations.

Learn new things, read new books, study something you’re interested in, find out how it works. Become aware of the thoughts that are going through your head during the day. Are they mostly negative, and counterproductive? Do you repeat the same patterns in your head day after day, do you mentally complain about the same things, worry about the same future circumstances, regret the same past mistakes? Your mind is a tool for you to control, you are not your thoughts and they should have no power over you. Try and interrupt these negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts that can benefit you instead.

Question your beliefs, do they really serve you? Believing is seeing so make sure what you believe is beneficial. Where did your beliefs come from? Did you pick them up from your parents? Did they come from a single event in the past? Do you have negative beliefs about yourself? Get rid of these old negative beliefs. They aren’t true, and even if you have a bunch of evidence that says they are, they would only be true for the past you, change your belief and it won’t hold power over the person, you are now.

It’s Not Black and White

Chances are none of us belong complete in one category or another but I hope this article can help you look at your life and see if there is any areas where your running on existence autopilot that you can work on to ensure your really living your life. We all slip into autopilot from time to time, and who doesn’t enjoy some good old mindless entertainment now and then? The point is just to take a step back and look at the big picture of your life. Do you shut out new things, do you respond reactively to the situations that arise in your life? Are you a victim of circumstances? Are you afraid to experience the world? Or are you trying to make the best of your short time here, taking responsibility for your life, putting your happiness in your hands, being the master of your own life. Are you truly living, or simply existing?

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  • Graham Phoenix

    I totally agree with your distinction about existing v living, but as you say at the end we are none os us in one category or the other. We all hover somewhere in the middle and shift about. I thought the opening paragraphs appeared negative because you opened with all the negatives about existing. This would proably put off the very readers you want to attract.

    many thanks


  • Devin Licastro

    Thanks a lot for the suggestion Graham~
    I think you were totally write so I went back and rewrote the beginning and made a few minor changes throughout. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Graham Phoenix

    Devin, that reads a lot better, well done. It now draws you into the article, makes you want to keep reading.

  • Devin Licastro

    Thanks a lot for the suggestion Graham~
    I think you were totally write so I went back and rewrote the beginning and made a few minor changes throughout. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Graham Phoenix

    Devin, that reads a lot better, well done. It now draws you into the article, makes you want to keep reading.

  • David

    I think this article is brilliant and is true in everything it says. I think I am guilty of alot of the negative beliefs that prevent us from living rather than existing e.g. trying to fit in and seeking approval from others instead of figuring out what i really want and taking responsibility to go after it. I am however aware of alot of these bad habits, I just hope that I can find a way to move past them and your article really does give encouragement that this can be achieved. I suppose it just means having the courage to honestly confront your old way of thinking and having the perseverence to move on and learn from negative experiences like you say. Keep up the good work!!

  • Devin Licastro

    Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you liked the article. Of course this can be achieved for you or anyone, it just takes a strong desire, a belief in yourself, some goals and plans, and of course perseverance, like you said, to make it happen. Oh and… have fun every step of the way!

  • Anonymous

    I suppose it means having the bravery to honestly confront your elderly way of thinking and having the perseverence to move on and learn from negative they tried to film but they didn’t feel “welcome”.

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  • julia jean

    Thank you for a brilliant talk. I have taken some lovely things away from this. I will meditate on these words and serve people. Choosing Life above existence. I need that over anything. Thanks for motivating me to carryover on…..

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  • jennifer loop

    Hi devin < i am from India and must say you writing style is fabulous, Sorry for my egnlish as this is not my 1st language. U have really taken a strong desire to write it up like The Indian Designer Sarees lol