If This Isn’t Living, I Don’t Know What Is…

A simple trick, with massive implications

Tom Littler
Jan 20, 2021

You wake up and make your coffee. You sit down and write out your to-do list for the day. You make sure you include stuff that needs to get done and stuff that you enjoy doing. You work solidly through the day and in the end, you are satisfied with the work, but as you look back on what you’ve achieved you have to ask yourself ‘did I enjoy that?’

The key to living a satisfying life

Everyone is focused on how to get stuff done, there’s countless blog posts and videos (including my own) on how to work smarter, more efficiently, and more productively, but what if we are missing a key piece of the puzzle? After all, what’s the good in being productive, what’s the good in crafting ourselves our perfect day, if we can’t enjoy ourselves while we are doing it?

Recently, I heard some advice, some of the simplest advice imaginable (unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember where I heard it, and a google search reveals nothing), but I can honestly say that following it has helped me live a much happier life.

The concept is simple, throughout the day, notice when you are enjoying something, and just make the following statement ‘If this isn’t living I don’t know what is.’

Productivity + awareness

The problem this statement solves is that without any awareness of what we are doing, we can often go through life on autopilot, just executing on commands, crossing off tasks operating in this way, our senses become dulled, we become a shadow of the rich, colourful tapestries of human emotion that can be felt. We are simply machines executing commands.

Taking a step back, when we recognise some kind of enjoyment, to make the statement ‘if this isn’t living, I don’t know what is’ is like getting out of bed and submerging your head in a bucket of ice-water. It pulls you out of your slumber, it provides you with the awareness that you are enjoying yourself. It brings back the human experience to whatever it is you are doing.

It’s not about ‘peak experiences’

You may think that making a statement like this requires being involved in some kind of peak experience. That we could only permit ourselves to say this after climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro or after receiving a promotion for our dedicated work. This isn’t the case at all. In fact, if you have this mentality, of waiting on the extraordinary I’d argue you may go through life never being truly fulfilled.

I sit writing a blog post now, and just told myself ‘if this isn’t living I don’t know what is’. I then notice the views out of the window, the soft light of the sun on the sea I am fortunate enough to have a view of, I notice the relaxing hip-hop music playing in my ears, notice that my belly is fun and that my mind is alert. I pause for a second and acknowledge and enjoy these things before getting back to my writing.

Anyways enough of my ramblings, try it out for yourself, and watch your awareness lift. It will not seem natural at first but do it frequently enough while you are executing your tasks and you will not only be able to string together a load of worthwhile work, you’ll also be able to be aware that you are enjoying that work. In my opinion, this is a fundamental experience to living a good life.

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Made by Tom in Webflow