- See life (disambiguation) for other senses of the word.
Life or personal life or human existence is an individual human's personal, private career (including, but not the same as their employment career), and is a common notion in modern existence. There are service industries designed to help people improve their personal lives via counselling or life coaching.
In the past, before abundance and technology, a person's life consisted almost entirely of survival of both self and community; food needed to be harvested and shelters needed to be maintained. There was little privacy in a community, and a person was identified by their job.
In modern times, many people have come to think of their personal lives as separate from their work. Work and recreation are distinct; one is either on the job or not, and the transition is abrupt. Employees have certain hours they are bound to work, and work during recreational time is rare. This may be related to the continuing specialization of jobs and the demand for increased efficiency, both at work and at home. A common phrase demonstrating this is "Work hard, play hard".
A "life" as a whole may seem morally "good" or "bad", and become characterised as such. It (or part of it) may find literary reflection in a biography, an autobiography or a memoir. Some outstanding lives merit hagiography or a vita.
The career from birth to death is not always a uniform "daily life". Many people separate their overall lives into individual strands: their "intellectual lives", their "working lives", their "family lives" and their "sex lives". The religiously inclined may have "spiritual lives" or "religious lives" intertwined with their everyday activities; they usually also expect an afterlife (for some the most important thing). In the interim, those who can afford to pause and to do so may adopt a lifestyle or assess their quality of life.
Some doubts, however, may assail the would-be life-conductor. Acquaintances may encourage such to "get a life" - in the sense of promoting fuller participation in human (especially socially approved) activities - often outside one's own personally-defined life. Certain cultures, some defined by state or corporate agencies, encourage individuals to submerge themselves in collective wholes: mass movements or teams - on the sportsfield or in the workplace.