We tend to be a society that is all about “doing” things. We measure our days and our success by how many things we can check off on our to-do list. Our greatest commodity is our time since time is what limits how much we can accomplish.
“Doing” is about getting things done. It is an activity that is externally and forward-focused and is great to help us achieve things that we can clearly define. Typically, when we are “doing” something, we tend to follow a series of linear steps to define a goal, assess the situation and gaps, and then fill the gaps to complete the goal. This type of process can work for any type of externally focused activity — from acquiring a business to baking a cake. But what about other types of things, like getting the team at the office aligned around what you are doing or trying to achieve happiness and inner peace? A “doing” mentality and approach won’t work in these types of situations, because they are more internally focused. For these, we need to “be”.
When we are in a state of “being”, we are living in the present, are centered, and have an openness and awareness that allows thoughts and ideas to flow through us rather than trying to force them. This gives us the space we need to come up with new solutions and ideas that we may not have been able to think of when in a linear “doing” space. Time becomes flexible when we are “being”, and the focus and value is on the person that you are.
One way to think of these two states is to think of them as the yin/yang of activity.
The problem is most of us are out of balance. In the U.S., we live in a culture where doing rules over being, and the attainment of goals and material goods is most important. Being busy is so highly valued that people brag about how little sleep they get because they are so busy doing things. Our modern world makes it difficult to even find time to just “be” because we are so connected to each other through our phones, laptops, and iPads. When we are out of balance and heavy on the “doing” side, we lose touch with ourselves, with our vision and with the big picture of our life. Life becomes a series of tasks to be completed and we forget our connection with our larger, higher self to set the direction, connect to the source, and empower and energize ourselves through purpose and joy.
(While our society leans far more on the “doing” side, there are challenges associated with those who are more “being” and don’t connect with their “doing” side — specifically that they may become lethargic and unmotivated to do anything.)
When we balance “being” and “doing” we are able to have a physical experience grounded in spirituality.
We need to change the way we think and move through life.
Usually when we meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask or are asked is, “What do you do?” When we are talking to children, we ask them, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
When we honor people, it is usually for doing something — acts of bravery, doing well in school and getting top grades, or winning a competition or a sporting event. When we go into work on Monday, our co-workers ask us what we did over the weekend. And when a pet or child does something wrong, we ask (usually angrily), “What did you DO?!”
Our current mindset, language and culture are focused on “doing” and starting with “doing.” We tend to focus on what a person does rather than who he or she is. But what if we started first with “being?” How different would our lives be? Imagine meeting someone new or talking to a child or even just talking to ourselves and asking the question: “How or what do you want to be? What type of person do you want to be?”
The answer to these questions can lead us down a completely different conversation or an entirely new life path!
When you ask someone what she does, and she responds, “I’m a dentist,” there isn’t much more to say unless you need to have a crown replaced or are interested in teeth whitening products. But if you ask that same person what type of person she wants to be, a whole new world can open up. You may learn that she wants to be a person who helps others, or who has an impact on the world, or who lives peacefully, or who finds joy daily, or who shares her passion for something with others.
Suddenly the conversation is richer, deeper and more insightful. The connection between you and this other person is stronger. When we are talking with a child who has done something wrong, the shift of the conversation to “what you want to be” allows you to change the conversation away from punishment to reconnecting to the heart and purpose. When you focus on what you want to be, you get insights into your passions, your character, your self, and your life purpose. Try it. Find some time and a quiet place and ask yourself the questions. Listen to your heart and then ask how the answer you receive can relate to your work, your education, your personal time, and your relationships.
When balanced and used together, being and doing can be very powerful.
When you are thinking about what you want for your life and what you want to create, being is the natural first step. Being allows the vision and ideas to come to you and creates the space for them to be even bigger and better than what you could have imagined if you jumped immediately into doing. Being first also helps you to better see where your priorities are because you are connected to your heart and your emotions, which serve as your “due North” compass point to let you know you are moving in the right direction.
So when you have several options in front of you or are in the middle of some drama or intense time, give yourself the gift of pausing and being so that you can connect with yourself and your purpose and get to a state of peace and clarity. From this place, you can get ideas and answers.
And then, and only then, you move into doing.