Allgemein / lifestyle

Are you living or merely surviving?

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Oscar Wilde once said: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all”. This sums up the dilemma of today’s society: We live in a world of excess, we have more than we need, yet at the same time people are unhappier than ever.

In our fast paced lives, we focus so much on success, money and work that many of us have forgotten the real reason we are on this planet: we are here to live.

But what does living mean?
First, let me start off by telling you what it doesn’t mean.

Living isn’t working at a job you hate for ridiculous hours, counting down the days to the weekend or to your next vacation. It doesn’t mean silencing the voice inside you (your intuition), that is telling you that you are on the wrong path, and just keep pushing through nonetheless.

Living isn’t starring at screens the whole day. It is not looking at your TV and phone, observing other people’s lives and envying the false perfection, whilst you forget to live your own.

Living isn’t about what your life looks like- it is about what it feels like. You may have a fancy car, a nice watch or amazing position in a company- it is all worthless if it doesn’t make you happy. Living is about the small things not the big ones (see this article).


“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all”

– Oscar Wilde


A lot of people have the following attitude: If it doesn’t look good on our CV it is not worth pursuing. But let me tell you: its those off path experiences that will never make it onto your CV that will make you the happiest. The moments that you won’t even be able to put into words or even share with anyone who wasn’t there are the ones when you are truly living.

When I do something I love from the bottom of my heart, like write a meaningful article or travel to a special place, I sometimes get goose bumps, just because it reminds of what it feels like to be alive and to love life.

We have grown up into a world where we have been thought to place ourselves into a shell that reflects on the outside what we should be, but keeps our true wishes and dreams hidden on the inside.  Oh how much easier it is to tell people you want to become a lawyer or study business than it is to explain to your parents why you want to become an actor or writer.

Living means peeling yourself out of the shell, being true to yourself and saying: Hey, this is what I want, this is what makes me happy and I don’t care what everyone else thinks.

What’s the point in pursuing a career you dislike, studying something you have no interest in or dating someone you don’t love? All this does is eat away from the limited time we have on this planet, since everything you do without love and passion is pretty much wasted time and will only leave you with regret.

Living is about feeling alive. We all have different moments that make us feel alive. Someone might feel the most alive after having solved a difficult math equation, whereas someone else might feel the happiest after a long night of dancing.

Living means going out for a walk to watch the sunset. It means appreciating the people in your life and making time for them, because your friends family should always come first. Living means getting on that plane or in that car and exploring new places. Living means dancing all night and doing stupid things that you will remember in 10 years. It means taking your time to laugh until your stomach hurts, to kiss until you head is spinning, to breathe until your lungs are actually filled with air and to live every second until there are none left.

Remember all of the moments you have truly felt alive.
Now make it your goal to have as many moments like that in your life as possible.

This post isn’t about encouraging you to quit your job, travel to an island and sip on coconuts all day.

No, it more so is a reminder to myself and to everyone who reads this is that live is short and that the goal should be to feel alive as much of the time as possible.


A magical moment: watching the sunset over Crete on the plane



Jessi 17. July 2017 Reply

Wundervoll geschrieben ❤️

    Janine Jahnke 18. July 2017 Reply

    Danke dir Jessi! xx

Sophie 17. July 2017 Reply

Aber müssen wir nicht manchmal Dinge tun, die uns keinen Spaß machen, um überhaupt leben zu können?

Finde den post aber sehr toll! Ab und an sollte man sich mit solchen Gedanken mal wieder etwas runter holen von all dem erfolgsstreben ❤️

    Janine Jahnke 18. July 2017 Reply

    Da hast du vollkommen Recht. Aber ich glaube das selbst unangenehme Dinge- Steuererklärungen, Zahnarzttermine usw. einen Sinn ergeben und nicht wirklich “schlimm” sind wenn man sie im größeren Bild betrachtet. Denn man macht diese Dinge die keinen Spaß machen ja nur um “zu leben”, weil sie einem weiterhelfen. Wenn man etwas tut was einem keinen Spaß macht und einem auch nicht wirklich auf dem Lebensweg weiterhilft sollte man es nochmal überdenken.
    Freut mich dass dir der Post gefällt <3

cristina 17. July 2017 Reply

I never comment, but this time I will. You reminded me that I only exist and my day’s are every day the same. Which is sad. I am only 16 and I haven’t experienced anything exciting in my life so far. I mean anything really exciting. I spend my day nearly only on my phone, drawing, sitting at home and hating myself because I gained weight. Every day I remind myself that I have to change something. But I never do anything at all… My parents went biking yesterday and I could have gone with them but I decided to watch Gossip Girl (I finally finished it before I read your post ?). What I want to say is thank you for showing me once again that I should start LIVING NOT ONLY EXISTING. I have to change something and yes I won’t go on a special holiday on an island or anywhere this year but you can find your adventure at home too, am I right? Thank you so much for your inspiration I am so glad that I found you a few years ago bc you are really inspiring!!! Today I will get my ass on my bike and look forward to an adventure in my honetown. Even though it’s not that exciting hahaha. (I am sorry for my bad english, I could have written in german but english sounds cooler?) Have a great eveninh Janine! xoxo

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    Your comment made me soo happy! Don’t be too hard on yourself- you still have your whole life to explore and experience things. You are also totally right- you don’t have to go far. Exploring your home town or simply meeting with friends can also be amazing! Wishing you all the best, Janine
    P.S Your english is so good!!
    P.S.S. Please don’t worry about gaining weight- your weight doesnt matter when it comes to happiness

Martina 17. July 2017 Reply

Liebe Janine,
du sprichst mir mit diesem Post so aus der Seele. Ich denke im Moment so viel darüber nach, was ich in den kommenden Jahren machen möchte, wo ich mich beruflich hin entwickeln soll und mit was für einer Arbeit ich mich vor allem 40 Stunden pro Woche beschäftigen möchte.. ich bin gerade in den Endzügen meines Masters und auch wenn man meinen sollte, ich wüsste mittlerweile in welcher Position ich gern arbeiten würde – dem ist nicht so 😉
Wenn da nicht die Situation wäre, dass man irgendwie ein Einkommen zum Leben benötigt, wäre das natürlich alles deutlich einfacher.
Ich finde, du triffst da einen Punkt, denen sich viele der Generation Y stellen (müssen) und ich bin gespannt wo es uns alle hinführt. Wieder einmal ein paar tolle Zeilen bei denen man am Liebsten bei einer Tasse Café mit dir weiter philosophieren möchte.
Liebe Grüße aus München,

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    Danke für deinen tollen Kommentar. Du hast vollkommen Recht- man merkt sehr dass es bei unserer Generation einen Umbruch git und sich viele einfach nicht mit der bisherigen Norm zufrieden stellen wollen. Man kann wirklich gespannt sein wie all dies weitergeht, aber ich glaube, dass dies das Potential hat ein sehr positiver Umschwung zu sein. Alles Liebe, Janine

Annie 17. July 2017 Reply

Needed this – thank you!

    Janine Jahnke 18. July 2017 Reply

    So happy you could relate <3

Zoe B 17. July 2017 Reply

I absolutely loved this post. I think about this a lot (even though I’m only 16) and hope that I am able to find something that I love to do as a job and still be able to travel. You are a huge inspiration for me to do this, thank you?

    Janine Jahnke 18. July 2017 Reply

    So happy to read this <3

Pauline 18. July 2017 Reply

Du hast wirklich unglaublich schöne Worte gefunden um dieses Thema zu beschreiben Janine 🙂
Ich kann dir wirklich nur zu 100% zustimmen und hoffe sehr, dass ich diesen wichtigen Gedanken in meinem Leben nie aus den Augen verliere. Noch gehe ich zur Schule und kann nicht unbedingt wirklich das tun was ich will. Trotzdem versuche ich darin einfach das Positive zu sehen und genieße die Zeit, die ich nebenbei habe umso mehr mit den Dingen die mich erfüllen und glücklich machen. Außerdem ist es jetzt mein letztes Jahr und auch das wird schnell vorbei sein 🙂
Die Situation, die du beschrieben hast, bei der du Gänsehaut bekommst, kann ich sehr gut nachvollziehen. Das geht mir auch oft so wenn ich ein Zitat oder einen Text wie deinen Lese durch den mir wieder bewusst wird was Leben bedeutet und wie ich mein Leben führen möchte.
Vielen Dank dafür!

Liebe Grüße
Pauline <3

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    Vielen Dank für deine immer wieder super lieben Kommentare Pauline 🙂 Es freut mich immer sehr dein Feedback zu lesen xx

Charlotte 18. July 2017 Reply

This one hit me. It makes me think of What I want in this life, not what is expected. Right now I’m a little stuck, and being long time sick. But I will try to make the most of it now, and not wait til I’m healthy and well again. Maybe this is what I need. 🙂 Thank you!

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    I am sure you can do this! Sending you lots of love 🙂

Ines 18. July 2017 Reply

wowwww such a beautiful article ! All of what is said in it is so true, and it makes me dream : I hope one day we would be able of living like this, without any pressure, and with a life full of dreams, love, and happiness, and also with a complete love for who we are and for our life …
Thanks you sooo much for sharing these beautiful thoughts,

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    Thanks Ines 🙂

Benita 18. July 2017 Reply

Danke! Genau das habe ich jetzt gebraucht. Ich stehe momentan vor einer sehr schwierigen Entscheidung und mit der einen Entscheidung wären meine Eltern sehr unglücklich. Aber dein Post hat mich wieder daran erinnert, dass man nicht nach den Erwartungen der Gesellschaft leben muss. ?

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply

    Es freut mich sehr das zu lesen 🙂 Hör auf dein Gefühl- es ist dein Leben 🙂

Astrid 18. July 2017 Reply

Ein toller Reminder um das zu tun worauf es wirklich ankommt! Danke dafür ♥️

    Janine Jahnke 20. July 2017 Reply


Kaidi 12. August 2017 Reply

I don’t remember the last time I wrote a comment on anything I read online. This one though… boy oh boy, this hit me like a truck. I mean, I might be reasonably young (18 years of age) but I’ve thought a lot about this specific topic; how I just exist instead of living. I spend my days looking at a screen, either my phone, computer or the TV and even though I know, deep down I know this isn’t how I want to live my life I haven’t changed anything, YET. Now, after seeing all of my own thoughts being put into real, actual words on paper (or well, in my case computer screen but you know what I mean)by you I want to change things around. And I know it will be scary and new and all of that but I’m up to going to that adventure and I truly hope I’m not the only one because just existing isn’t a good way of living, in my opinion. So thank you, Janine, for putting these words out here and inspiring not only me but many others!

    Janine Jahnke 14. August 2017 Reply

    Wow that is incredible. I sincerely wish you all the best on your way! x

Anni 26. October 2017 Reply

I quite like this inspiring and motivating post; your writing style is lovely. However, there is the question of personal responsibilities and risks that you didn’t address. I’m interested in hearing your response as to what to do when one has certain obligations in life, such as bills, loans, debts, families to take care of that prevent the pursuit of genuine interests and passions. In other words, how to overcome the fear of choosing a risky option that may result in a much worse regret than the safe, comfortable one.

    Janine Jahnke 31. October 2017 Reply

    Thank you so much for your input, Anni. I think those are interesting topics that need to be addressed to. I will try and tie them in with a future post. To quickly sum it up with a nutshell: things like taxes, paying off debt are things we simply have to do and can’t go around. However, we do have a lot more choice in our lives than we think we have. If we spend more of our time truly living, those “duties” won’t feel as difficult. All the best!

Sander 20. March 2018 Reply

Hi Janine,

As you get older, you’ll realize that some of the paths you could have walked when you were young, are closed, because you’ve made decisions (perhaps unintentional when you were naive) or things have happened in your life. E.g. taking children: once you have them, you need to take care of them, there’s no way back to the crossing and choosing another path (not taking children).

You seem to have a wonderful career in modeling and advertising (I’m extremely jealous, would have done the exact same thing if I were you), but what if one day you get bored of it? What other career paths can you walk? Especially if you’re older. Do you think you can still become a mechanical engineer at an age of 40? Probably not, don’t know of any model who has..

I don’t want to be the pessimist, but people make choices in their lives and certain things happen that can change the course of life for good. Because of such decisions and events, many people, if not 95% of all adults in this world, end up in some job that they don’t really 100% like, but they simply need to pay the bills. Most older people simply have few opportunities if any to drastically change their lives, to do something they really like. They are locked in the system, like a hamster in a cage. That is reality for most older people.

I’m 28 now. When I came from high school (which I’ve never liked), I chose to study business and specialize in finance. Only after I graduated, I realized that I had to move to a really big grey city and take a job at a really boring financial institution where I need to wear a suit all the time, making long and hard hours, staring at computer screens. Guess what? I haven’t (ok, apart from a couple days somewhere, so I’ve sort of tried..)! Instead I have chosen to continue my hobby with what I try to make money (not very successful yet). Luckily I have made that decision just in time a couple years ago. I still ask myself what I would have studied if I had to make the decision now, probably would have been something with computer science and/or electronics. Anyway, at this moment in time it’s important to pay back my debt (spent ridiculous amounts of money on a crappy car when I was in my early 20’s) and save up for a house. Unfortunately I still live at my parents home. I simply have no choice to move to a decent place in this super expensive country at this moment. Furthermore I have some health issues, that I have developed since my puberty, but slowly that’s getting ‘fixed’. Can I become a male model? No, I’m simply too tall, now certainly too old and probably don’t have the energy either. Last but not least; I seem to be a sucker for nice stuff. So, yeah, here I am, already quite stuck in the system. Wouldn’t surprise me if I too end up at some job I don’t like.. (try do everything in my power to turn the tide). You understand what I mean?

Still, my advice to everyone would also be: do what you like most. Don’t listen to what society wants you to become, but follow your heart! Refrain from debt and stay free. Be thankful for the opportunities you get and make the most of the best ones you really like.

iniiaa 8. August 2019 Reply

I ‘m back here, reading this again and again. I’m thinking, how close are our minds and how amazing human u are for me. Hope the best for you . Love <3

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