“Are you a human being or a human doing?” I love this question. Since I am a doer by nature, this question reminds me there is more to life than making checks on a list. Since I am much more likely to over-do than to under-do, this question helps me be careful I’m not just “doing” my life but really living my life.
I have another question, one I often ask my “doer” clients: “Would you still feel valuable if you were paralyzed from the neck down, if all you could do was sit and smile?” That’s a tough one for doers. We lead ourselves to believe that our value lies in doing. But that’s just not true. We are so much more than what we do. (Read If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then What is the Truth?: Understanding Self-Worth)
Daily Mindfulness: Being
What does it mean, then, to be a human “being”? I used to think “being” was sitting around meditating, relaxing, gazing at nature, and pondering the meaning of life all day. While these are all valuable practices that absolutely help us tap into “being,” I could never believe they were the only “way” to “be”. If so, what would become of those of us who simply don’t have the luxury of meditative time and space (I’m thinking of my fellow moms!)?
What I’ve come to learn is that being also involves engagement and meaning in life. Meaning is what separates “doing” from “being.” We can sit still and meditate to discover more “being.” And we can go about our daily work, mindfully, and discover “being” too. Being mindful simply means that we see the bigger picture, the meaning in what we do–that we focus on “the now,” that we don’t miss what’s right in front of us.
Daily Mindfulness: Doing
“Being” can, therefore, involve a fair share of “doing.” I, for one, feel best when I’m engaged in a worthy goal. I feel most myself when I’m doing meaningful work. That’s different than simply doing work so I can check it off my list. For example, going to work is doing. Fulfilling our life’s purpose through our work is being. Making dinner is doing. Joyfully creating a meal for our family to sit down and enjoy together is being. Cleaning is doing. Beautifying and improving our surroundings is being.
When doing has a purpose, a value, a light, then I am engaged in “being” who I really am. And who I really am (who we all really are) is a soul full of love and light and joy. I desire, more than anything, to share that love, light and joy with others. That’s why I do.
6 Ways to Put More “Being” Into What You’re “Doing”
We can all put a little more “being” into what we do each day, a little more focus on the meaning of life, a little more mindfulness of the beauty that is all around. Doesn’t that sound lovely–more meaning and purpose in life without “doing” more work? Yes? Then, let’s get started. The following 6 things I have found useful in being more mindful each day. I hope they help you “be” a little bit more too.
1) Do an “hour of power” (or at least 30 minutes), each morning. If you want more “being” throughout your day, then get the day started right. Focus on being present as you exercise, pray, study scripture or sacred texts, sit still, meditate, or ponder. The goal is to get you connected, open, focused on the meaning of your life, and ready to invite more “being” in your day.
2) Practice deep breathing. If it’s not already a habit, at first, you must practice. But eventually, deep breathing will become one of the quickest, most powerful ways to transition from simply “doing” to “being.” Start with five minutes a day. Sit still and breathe deeply. Slowly inhale all the way down to your toes as your belly expands, and count to five. For the next five counts slowly exhale as your belly contracts, forcing all the air out. Continue for five minutes (or longer, if you’d like). Then, throughout the day, when feeling stressed, tense, or stuck in your head, take a minute and practice your breathing. As you breathe, remind yourself of where you are, what you’re doing, and why you are doing it. Use the breath to mindfully re-focus on the meaning of this moment, on what matters most to you right now.
3) Ditch your to-do list today and instead sit down in a quiet, comfortable space, and create a “to-be” list. After all, does it really matter if you get that load of laundry done or get to the grocery store? Isn’t it more important to work on being kind, compassionate, generous, forgiving, thoughtful, courageous, inspired, creative, loving, or whatever values are most important to you? Who and how would you like to be? Create a dream list of qualities you admire in others. Then, pick one and work on “being” that today.
4) Focus on the present moment and see the beauty of life. What is right in front of you? Use all your senses and take it in. The sights, sounds, smells, taste, and feel of things. If you’re working on a project, give it your full attention and see the bigger picture behind what you’re doing. If you’re cleaning, really focus on the meaning of having an orderly space. If you’re trying to work while your kids are running around you, stop and notice their joy and laughter. Focusing on what’s right in front of us ensures we won’t miss the beauty that is everywhere is we simply slow down and see.
5) Relax and simply “be.” Slow your pace. Let go of one unnecessary “to do.” Instead, take a nap. Watch the clouds shift shapes with your kids. Smell the roses. Summer is the perfect time to work on relaxing into being—being in the sun, at the pool, lying in the grass with those you love, gazing at the starry sky taking in the majesty of creation, lingering in the evenings, watching the sun set tangerine and coral while eating homemade ice-cream, sitting perfectly still watching a newborn fawn creep across the grassy lawn.
6) Be grateful. Look around and notice all the good in your life. Send a prayer of thanks for your family and friends, for your home, job, for the weather, your body, your health, or all you have learned. (Read “10 Ways to Practice Gratitude Today!“) Noticing the good in life is the surest sign that you are truly being, and one of the best ways to realize that the happy, rich life you’ve always wanted has been right in front of you all along.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She is a recovering “doer,” and hopes to “be” a little bit better each and every day.[/author_info] [/author]
Do you ever feel like a human “doing” instead of a human “being” (or am I the only one)? What helps you get out of your “to do’s” and into your “to be’s”? Please leave a comment and share with us, below.
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**This article was inspired by my upcoming memoir, This is How We Grow (2013). To preview chapters or join my Summer Book Club, click here.