“I am a human being, not a human doing.”
– Dr. Wayne Dyer
I came across this quote at some point in the past, and it’s always stuck with me.
As I’ve learned about mindfulness and practiced it for a few years now, I’ve gathered that there are two main modes of living. They are “doing” and “being.”
Most of us live in a culture that is all about achieving, concerned with getting things done and moving onto the next. It’s typically rewarded with raises, promotions, and material gain. And, this is where most of us find ourselves – the “doing” mode.
We also have minds that automatically judge every bit of incoming information. What happens is that, in this automatic judgment, we end up noticing that there is a gap between what we have and what we do not. This gap creates a load of frustration, and pushes us to desperately find a solution to close it. We attempt to remedy it by analyzing, planning, and solving. All hallmarks of the “doing” mode. And this is all fine and dandy. It’s absolutely necessary for us to be able to analyze, judge, and come up with solutions in order to survive in this world.
The issue comes when “doing” is our default mode.
Always “doing” keeps us from being in the moment. We find ourselves on auto-pilot. We end up missing out on our lives and our loved ones. Life flashes by and we find ourselves looking back saying, “Wow, I did so much, but I don’t remember any bit of it.” This is what happens. Doing is completely future focused. It doesn’t allow space for being in the present and experiencing gratitude for what we have, right now.
While being in “doing” mode is incredibly beneficial for many areas of our external lives, it’s not so great for our internal world – namely, our emotions. The reason for this is because the mind begins dwelling and going round and round in “doing” mode trying to find outwardly solutions. This continuous dwelling tends to make us feel worse and moves us further away from our goals.
In order to make a shift into a state in which we can fully understand and manage our emotions, as well as experience a more whole, memorable, and well-rounded life, we have to learn to balance our “doing” mode with “being” mode.
“Being” mode is all about non-judgment, non-attachment, acceptance, and awareness. When we’re simply being, we’re in a space of compassion, peace, and overall presence. We’re here. Now. This is the basis of mindfulness.
“Being” also allows us to get out of our heads and into our hearts. We’re able to stop attaching ourselves to and analyzing our thoughts and feelings. We recognize that our emotions cannot be solved, reasoned away, nor can they be fixed. We can simply let them be as they are, as we allow ourselves to be as we are. In total harmony. This allows them the opportunity to pass through and be released so they do not hinder us by way of repression. We accept what is, with no judgment, knowing that as we let go and allow some space for ourselves to breathe, any solutions we’re searching for will come naturally, with little to no effort.
“Being” allows us to experience our lives to the fullest extent. We are present for ourselves and our loved ones, able to make memories and have the opportunity to look back and say, “Remember when?” We have the space to extend love and compassion to ourselves and the world around us. We feel more relaxed, more happy, and open. We have the capacity to respond, rather than react like when we’re on autopilot in “doing” mode. We have more choices because we have a greater understanding and acceptance of the totality of who we are because we’ve taken the time out to be with ourselves.
We’re living. We’re loving. We’re being.
So, how can we start shifting into “being” mode more often?
- In the midst of “doing,” be mindful of what is going on inside you. It’s important to note here that “being” and “doing” are not exclusive states. As you’re walking to your car, in the midst of work, or standing in line at the store, take a few breaths and get in touch with yourself. Take a second and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Ask yourself what you’re thinking about. We all have responsibilities to take care of, so it’s unrealistic to attempt to stop doing. It’s just a matter of balance. Taking care of external as well as the internal.
- Be mindful of what is going on around you. One of my favorite ways to get out of my head and into the present is to put my complete focus on what is in my environment. I’ll mentally recite everything I see. If I’m at a park, it sounds like “tree, sky, grass, bird, path, etc.” until I feel as though I’m back to “being.” This undoubtedly helps when we find ourselves around our loved ones and lacking the ability to come back down to earth.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. There are a ton of great apps out there with guided meditations to follow if you’re a beginner. Headspace and Smiling Mind are two of my favorites. This is also a great 7 minute guided meditation to shift from “doing” to “being.” The more you practice, the easier you’ll find yourself being able to “be.”
- Instead of looking at your days as nothing but a to-do list, what if you started them with a question? “When today is over, how would I like to feel?” After receiving that answer, follow up with, “What will allow me to experience that feeling?” And do that. Make that the number one priority, and then follow through with the rest of your “to-dos.” You may find you’re actually more productive, while simultaneously being much more relaxed and at peace. Remember, you are number one. Allow your “being” mode to inform your “doing” mode.
It’s easy to get lost in all of the doing, but it’s important to remember that that’s not all there is to life. We are more than our to-do lists. We must remind ourselves that we are human beings and are meant to experience our lives fully. This means balance and recognizing when to shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I lovingly invite you to try this out with me. Even just for today, let go of your “to-dos” and take some time to just be. Let me know how it goes for you below!
Here’s to more being-ness and balance!